Saturday, January 22, 2022

Damian Lillard injury update: Trail Blazers star sidelined at least three games with abdominal tendinopathy

Damian Lillard is head to the injured list again this season with what the Portland Trail Blazers are calling lower abdominal tendinopathy. That same injury forced him to miss five games in late November, and now Portland is expecting him to miss at least the next three games as he undergoes further evaluation, and his status will be updated next week. 

Lillard sat out during the Blazers’ 136-131 win over the Atlanta Hawks Monday night, in which Anfernee Simons went off for 43 points to stave off a career night from Hawks All-Star guard Trae Young, who scored a personal-best 56 points. When Lillard last missed time with this injury, he needed a cortisone injection in his abdomen to return to the court. He played a total of nine games before heading back on the injured list. 

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This injury dates back to his time with Team USA during their 2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medal run. Lillard reportedly played the entire tournament with an abdomen injury, as he wanted to help the team win gold. Considering he’s missed time twice now with that same injury, it appears as though the issue hasn’t healed properly, which is a blow for the Blazers.

The start to this season hasn’t been ideal for Portland, as it owns a 14-22 record, good for 12th in a crowded Western Conference. Injuries to Lillard and CJ McCollum, the latter of whom hasn’t played since Dec. 6 due to a collapsed lung, have resulted in the Blazers racking up losses at a fast rate. Couple that with the fact that they’ve had players in and out of COVID protocols similar to the rest of the league, and it’s safe to say that it’s been anything but smooth sailing for Portland. 

Now this team will have to endure another stretch of games without Lillard, with the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings all slated next up on the schedule. Ideally, the Trail Blazers would want Lillard back as soon as possible to help turn things around quickly, but given that this will be the second time this season that he’s struggled with the same injury, it would be wise for Portland to take its time in bringing Lillard back until he’s 100 percent healthy. 

We’ve seen this team struggle out of the gates the past few seasons and manage to grab a playoff spot, or at the very least secure a play-in bid. They’re also just one loss back of the final play-in spot, so there’s certainly time to move up the standings. So if it means that Lillard misses more than just three games for the sake of him being healthier a couple weeks down the road, that might be the safest path for the All-Star guard and the Blazers. 

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