Portland coach Terry Stotts confirmed Friday that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard would play Saturday’s NBA playoff game against the Los Angeles Lakers, likely with a splint on his dislocated left index finger.
“He’s getting treatments today,” Stotts told reporters from the NBA’s coronavirus quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida. “Multiple treatments throughout the day.
“I believe he’ll be wearing a splint, but he will play.”
That only confirmed what Lillard said after he was hurt in Thursday’s 111-88 loss to the Lakers, which left their best-of-seven opening round playoff series level at 1-1.
“Oh, I’m playing,” he said – a comment that came as no surprise to his coach.
“Honestly, it’s kind of what you expect,” he said of Lillard’s determination. “Dame has played through a lot of injuries and this being the playoffs I don’t think it surprises anybody.
“Certainly it sets the tone for the team.”
Lillard has been a revelation since the NBA resumed in Orlando on July 31, powering Portland through the seeding games and a play-in game against the Memphis Grizzlies that gave the Blazers their shot at Western Conference top seed Los Angeles.
He put up 50 points against Philadelphia, 61 against Dallas and 43 against Brooklyn just to get Portland into the play-in.
After they dispatched Memphis in one game, he scored 34 points in Portland’s game-one upset of the Lakers.
He scored 18 points in 30 minutes in game two, departing with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter after hitting his finger on Anthony Davis’s shoe as he tried to reach around the Lakers star for the ball.
“I felt it right away,” Lillard said, adding that he “didn’t even want to look at it.”
When he did, he saw that the finger was “off” and tried to pull it back into place himself before the Blazers medical staff took over.
While the Lakers looked more like the team that dominated the West before the coronavirus hiatus, Stotts said the lopsided game-two defeat hadn’t discouraged the battle-hardened Trail Blazers.
“That was our 11th game in the bubble,” he noted. “And the previous 10 games all were within five points with five minutes to go. I know we’re still confident.”
However, the Trail Blazers got bad news on the injury front on Friday, announcing that 22-year-old forward Zach Collins would miss the remainder of the playoffs with a hairline stress fracture in his left ankle.
Collins missed time before the coronavirus hiatus with a shoulder injury. He returned for the restart, averaging 6.3 points and 7.1 rebounds in eight games at Orlando.
Doncic plays down concerns
Luka Doncic made Dallas history with the NBA team’s first playoff triple-double on Friday, but the Slovenian star’s left ankle sprain in a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers took the sheen off the feat.
“It’s not that bad,” the 21-year-old told reporters after the 130-122 defeat that left the Mavericks trailing the Clippers two games to one in the best-of-seven Western Conference Series. “A little sprain.”
But Doncic will have an MRI exam on Saturday, and coach Rick Carlisle said he didn’t know what his young star’s status would be for game four on Sunday.
“Unsure of the exact severity of Luka’s left ankle,” Carlisle said. “We’ll know more tomorrow. He did come back and try it, obviously, and wasn’t moving great, so we’ll see where he is come tomorrow and then Sunday morning.”
Doncic appeared to tweak the ankle when he slipped in the opening minutes of the game.
But the real damage was done with four minutes left in the third quarter, as he moved over to defend a driving Kawhi Leonard.
Doncic twisted the ankle and hit the court, clearly in pain. He hopped to the sideline and was helped to the locker room, returning in the fourth quarter with the ankle heavily taped.
In his brief return, Doncic polished off a triple-double of 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
But he came up limping again with 9:02 remaining and headed again to the sidelines and again to the locker room.
Carlisle said he had no qualms about putting Doncic back in the game when he said he wanted to try to play.
But he recognized immediately when Doncic couldn’t go on.
“He didn’t further injure it,” Carlisle said. “He just wasn’t able to move the way you’ve got to be able to move in a playoff game.”