The Bubble MVP is out. Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard will miss Game 5 of their playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers due to a knee injury. The Lakers have a 3-1 lead and seek to close out the first-round series and advance to the Western Conference semifinals. The Blazers now face the daunting task of playing an elimination game without their five-time All-Star.
With Lillard down, the Trail Blazers chances seem slim. The Lakers are currently 14-point favorites against a Dame-less Portland squad.
Lillard suffered the injury when he sprained his right knee at the end of the third quarter in Game 4. It was a non-contact injury during a drive to the basket, but he never returned to the game. Lillard scored only 11 points in 27 minutes of action in the loss.
Portland sent Lillard to undergo two MRIs.
“The results of a second MRI confirm Portland guard Damian Lillard with a right knee sprain. Lillard is listed as out for Wednesday’s Game 5 of Portland’s first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers,” confirmed the Trail Blazer’s PR team.
In Game 2, the injury bug hit Lillard. He left that game early when he dislocated his left index finger. Trainers and medical staff popped his finger back into place. Luckily, X-rays revealed no broken bones or fractures. Lillard suited up for Game 3 and shrugged off the sore finger by scoring 34 points.
Just when it seemed as though Dame’s finger malady was in the rear-view mirror, the Blazers incurred another bad beat when Lillard went down with the knee injury in Game 4.
Another look at Damian Lillard's non-contact knee injury pic.twitter.com/263IjR9C3e
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) August 25, 2020
Dame Bubble MVP
The Blazers came into the restart on the playoff bubble. Lillard carried the team on his back in the bubble, and the Blazers went on a run to secure the #8 seed. Lillard didn’t skip a beat in the restart. He exploded for 51 points and 61 points in two games, which put him at three 50+ games for the season. A locked-in Lillard didn’t hesitate to launch 3-pointers from almost half-court.
Lillard finished the season as the NBA’s third-best scorer with an average of 30 points per game. That marked a career-high for Dame.
The Blazers defeated the #9 Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA’s first-ever play-in game to advance to the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The Blazers came in as the underdog against a slumping Lakers’ squad. Lillard and the Blazers stunned the Lakers in Game 1. Dame led the way with 34 points in the upset. Since then, the Lakers won three games in a row to regain command of the series.
Before the playoffs began, Lillard also got word that he would appear in the cover of the next version of the insanely-popular NBA 2K21 video game.
Lakers Up 3-1
The Lakers are one win away from closing out the opening-round series and will face the winner of the Houston/Oklahoma City series (which is currently deadlocked at 2-2).
“We all know in the room that we’re down 3-1 to a good team,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “We know the challenge in front of us, but I think we all have a belief in what we’re able to do. Obviously we weren’t doing somersaults this morning. We got beat badly and we have a lot of pride, and I think we’re looking for an opportunity to redeem ourselves tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, there’s a little bit of concern brewing in the City of Angels. Anthony Davis only played 18 minutes in Game 4 after exiting prematurely due to a back injury.
“My back is fine. It got a little tight,” explained Davis. “We were playing great basketball and we had a big enough lead that I was able to get my back all the way healthy. There’s no question that I’ll be playing in Game 5.”
The Lakers are hoping that Rajon Rondo will be ready to go soon. Their starting point guard broke his thumb in July and didn’t suit up during the restart or playoffs. Frank Vogel tapped Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso to fill in for Rondo at point guard.
The Lakers are one of the favorites to win the 2020 NBA Championship at 3/1 odds, according to a recent update from the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.