Damian Lillard injury update: Blazers star expects to miss the next three or four games with strained groin

Damian Lillard missed Sunday’s All-Star Game with a strained right groin. Now, that injury is probably going to keep him out for a little bit longer. Originally suffered in Portland’s final game before the break — a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies — that groin strain kept Lillard out of practice on Thursday. He revealed to reporters afterward that he thinks that he will miss the next three or four games for the Trail Blazers, according to Portland beat writer Casey Holdahl. 

Any absence from Lillard at this point in the season threatens to cripple Portland’s already low chance at making the playoffs. The 25-31 Blazers are already four games behind the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, and while they have an easy schedule the rest of the way, their next few games will likely be quite difficult. They return from the break on Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans, one of the teams that they are competing with for the No. 8 seed, and after a winnable game against the Detroit Pistons, they play against two Eastern Conference contenders in the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics. 

Lillard has been arguably the NBA’s best player in the past month and a half or so. Through his last 21 games, he is averaging 34 points per game and shooting over 45 percent from behind the 3-point line. He has carried a Blazers team that has been utterly decimated by injuries, and without him, their playoff prospects are fairly grim. 

But rushing Lillard back from injury only to see him aggravate the groin would doom those chances entirely. For the time being, the Blazers will have to hope that CJ McCollum can pick up Lillard’s role as leading scorer and galvanizing force offensively if they hope to remain in the hunt. 

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