Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who recently missed three games due to right hamstring tendiopathy, hasn’t looked like his usual self in the three games since his return, all Portland losses, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Lillard has made just 25-of-72 shot attempts in those games, good for 34.7% from the floor.
As Quick details, Lillard said on Sunday that this is the “worst year physically” he has had in his nine-year playing career, but the All-Star guard said he doesn’t intend to sit out any more games as the Trail Blazers fight for a favorable playoff position. They’ve slipped to seventh, one game back of the sixth-seeded Mavs.
While the Blazers want to avoid being relegated to in a play-in tournament to secure their postseason berth – like they were a year ago – Quick wonders if it might make sense to rest Lillard for a few games before the season ends to make sure he’s in top form. As Quick observes, Portland is 3-2 this season without its leading scorer and has the backcourt depth to get by without him for a few games if a break would benefit Lillard.
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- With Jamal Murray out for the season, Michael Porter Jr. has been tasked with carrying more of the scoring load for the Nuggets, and with Will Barton sidelined, PJ Dozier has taken on an increased rotation role. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post details, both Porter and Dozier embraced their increased responsibilities on Saturday, combining for 62 points and 11 three-pointers in a win over Houston.
- Ramona Shelburne of ESPN examines the growing bond between Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, the pair of former No. 1 picks that the Timberwolves are poised to build around going forward.
- Jazz teammates Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles are both legitimate contenders for NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2020/21, prompting Sarah Todd of The Deseret News to take a closer look at their respective cases for the honor.
- Speaking of the Jazz, on Sunday they became the first team to clinch a 2021 playoff spot (Twitter link).