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Damian Lillard says he expects to miss 3-4 games, at least, with groin injury

Charlotte Hornets v Portland Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 13: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on against the Charlotte Hornets in the first quarter during their game at Moda Center on January 13, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

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Portland comes out of the All-Star break four games behind eight-seed Memphis for the final playoff slot in the West. The Trail Blazers’ first game is Friday night against New Orleans, one of the other teams in the mix chasing the Grizzlies.

Portland will be without Damian Lillard to start their late-season chase.

Lillard told reporters Thursday he expects to miss 3-4 games, with the possibility it could be more.

Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts joined Dan & Nigel in the Mornings on Rip City Radio 620, (if you live in the Portland area, watch simulcast on NBC Sports Northwest) and said this when asked about Lillard’s injury.

With groins, you just don’t know. It could be a week, it could be a month. Who knows?

Portland can’t afford for him to be out long.

Lillard is an All-NBA level guard leading the team with 29.5 points and 7.9 assists a game. Portland has a -9.1 net rating when Lillard is off the court this season (and they basically play teams even when he is on the court).

The injury was just an unfortunate fluke. With less than four minutes to go before the All-Star break, Damian Lillard drove the lane against Memphis Grizzlies big man Jonas Valanciunas, landed and was in instant pain, grabbing his groin. He soon fouled to stop play and went straight to the locker room. The next day an MRI confirmed the groin strain.

That moment could cost Portland a chance to come back and make the playoffs.