4:32pm: According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Lillard will have his calf injury reevaluated in one-to-two weeks, so it sounds as though he’ll miss Friday’s game against Houston and next Wednesday’s game against Memphis at minimum.
The Blazers put out an official press statement confirming the injury and the timeline reported by Charania.
7:58am: Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard left Wednesday’s loss to Miami in the third quarter after straining his right calf and didn’t return. However, he doesn’t view the injury as a serious one and didn’t undergo an MRI, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.
“Honestly, if this was a playoff game, I would have played,” Lillard said, per Jason Quick of The Athletic. “(The calf) would have been tight and uncomfortable, but I would have played. If that gives you any indication of how concerned I am now or would have been … I feel if it would have been on the line, I would have played.”
An iron man for much of his NBA career, Lillard missed more than nine games in a season for the first time in 2021/22 when he underwent abdominal surgery. That experience has altered the way he approaches nagging injuries, especially those that come early in the season, Quick writes.
“My perspective has changed, and I want to be in it for the duration, for the long haul of the season,” Lillard said. “It’s early. We’ve gotten off to a good start, things feel good, and I haven’t felt this good since my second or third year. Everything I did this summer is adding up: I feel fast, I feel strong, I don’t get tired, and I don’t want to lose that. So I have to be patient, and I can’t get ahead of myself.”
Lillard told reporters that he’ll likely end up missing Friday’s game vs. Houston, but it doesn’t sound like he expects his absence to extend much – if at all – beyond that. His absence will give young players like Keon Johnson and Shaedon Sharpe the opportunity to play increased roles for the 4-1 Blazers, as Quick observes.
“We have a lot of guys on this team who are capable,” Lillard said. “Sometimes you don’t play for a little bit and you are on the bench and you don’t know when your time is going to come, and it’s just a lesson to be prepared.”