Portland Trail Blazers

If Damian Lillard isn't at his best, the Trail Blazer restart is 'a waste of time'

Portland Trail Blazers

I’ve been around sports all my life and when somebody mentions “inflammation” in a foot, I admit to a little nervousness. That can mean a lot of things and a good share of them aren’t good, including, but not limited to, plantar fasciitis.

Damian Lillard sat out Sunday’s scrimmage with inflammation in his left foot and then went through only a no-contact practice Monday. Coach Terry Stotts said after that practice he wasn’t sure about Lillard’s availability for Tuesday’s final scrimmage.

I have no idea the extent of his injury and am not here to speculate on its seriousness -- because I don’t know and the team has not announced the exact nature of the injury.
But I do know this -- if Damian Lillard’s availability for the eight scheduled games in Orlando is going to be limited, that team should just pack up the basketballs and icebags and head on home.

This thing isn’t happening without Dame. And, given the schedule problems for the Trail Blazers, Dame at his absolute best is going to be needed.

The Trail Blazers got Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins back for this restart of the 2020 schedule, but are without Trevor Ariza and Rodney Hood, better defenders on the perimeter than anybody on the current playing roster.

Defense has been a problem all season for the Trail Blazers and that will likely continue. Which means Portland will need to have a very efficient offense to overcome the defensive shortcomings.

Without Lillard that would be difficult. It doesn't take a certified genius to know that.

And, of course, that doesn’t even take into account his leadership, which is a key to Portland’s motivation. He’s the one pushing the Trail Blazers toward the playoffs in a situation when a lot of players -- and teams -- would rather be home right now.

It was at Lillard’s birthday party last week when his stated wish to his teammates was famously “let’s not (f-word) waste our time out here” in Orlando. Meaning they are there to win.

And sad to say, if one of best players in the league can’t play or is limited in minutes or movement, that’s exactly what the restart is going to be for the Trail Blazers.

A waste of time.