Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is a warrior. Not the Golden State type. Lillard has been battling through several ailments this season as his Blazers fight for a playoff spot.
Via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
Lillard is giving his all to be available and to keep faint championship aspirations alive in Portland, all while fighting a number of injuries. The 30-year-old has battled a left ankle injury, tender ribs, a lower abdomen strain, and knee soreness from continual screen clashes, league sources stated to Yahoo Sports.
If screen clashes are a main culprit, then perhaps Lillard can change his play style. However, with his heart and toughness, he is not the kind of player to take plays off just to protect himself.
Not only is the roster built around Lillard, but the whole organization. He has been the face of the franchise for years. Lillard has been so loyal to the Blazers that trade rumors cannot even gain traction.
These past few weeks, Lillard has been in a slump by his standards. His points and assists have been down. One of the reasons why Lillard is an offensive juggernaut is because he is a high-volume, high-efficiency player. As of late, the efficiency has been missing with drops to his field goal and 3-point percentage. At one point, even his free-throw percentage was trending downward.
Lillard has been an iron man since entering the league in 2012, but the compressed season with back-to-back games and the additional heavy lifting with CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkić out for extended periods may have taken their toll on him.
As for the Blazers as a team, they’re down to 34-28 and the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Portland is trying to avoid the play-in, but even if that happens, the team is looking like first-round fodder.