Blazers might shut down Damian Lillard despite playoff contention

Damian Lillard

The Portland Trail Blazers have not been mathematically been eliminated from playoff contention, but the numbers are hanging in the balance. The rumors that Damian Lillard may get shut down became more real Saturday when Shams Charania tweeted that the Blazers were leaning towards doing so.

The Blazers have eight games left in the season, and though, they only sit 3.5 games out of a spot in the play-in tournament. They may be gearing up for an important offseason early. Lillard has been dealing with a calf injury over the past few days which has why he sat out against Chicago and Oklahoma City.

Though, this doesn’t come as a surprise as even Lillard was blunt about the potential of not playing again this season after a 117-102 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, which was Portland’s sixth straight defeat.

“I don’t think anybody around is crazy, you look at what the other teams are doing, creating separation. We’re on a losing streak. We’ve pretty much fallen out of the race for the 10th spot unless we go out there and win every game,” Lillard said. “I love to play, I love the competition and I haven’t been ready to give that up. But it does come a point in time when do you stop putting your competitive nature out front.”

The reported consideration to have Damian Lillard shut down is smart by the Blazers, as it will prevent any further injury. He missed a significant amount of last season with an abdominal injury he sustained in December which needed surgery. This season, he was able to miss minimal games after sustaining a calf injury in late October.

The Blazers currently sit in the No. 13 spot in the West, which doesn’t bode a great starting point for the Blazers to get into the playoffs. So, there’s no reason to risk anything. If the Blazers decide to shut Lillard down, it would hand the team over to the youngsters. Shaedon Sharpe has been phenomenal for Portland this seaon. However, he needs more experience with the big role he may get soon.

Despite Portland’s unfortunate 32-41 record, Lillard has been on a tear this season. Wednesday, he notched his 33rd 30-plus-point game of the season with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 12 assists in the victory over the Utah Jazz. Also, recording two triple-doubles this season.

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