Damian Lillard hasn’t been himself throughout the Western Conference Finals. We can rule a lack of confidence because that’s never been an issue for Dame Dolla. There’s also no reason his form would suddenly fall off a cliff with the reigning champs lying in the way.
During a riveting Game 2 encounters in the previous round, Lillard allowed a fan to wage emotional warfare against his emotional resolve in a calculated move to return from the bench with a chip on his shoulder. The results speak for themselves, going back to midseason.
That leaves the experts with one plausible explanation for his decline in play: Lillard’s playing through an injury. According to multiple sources, including the NBA’s very own official news bulletin, Lillard is, in fact, suffering through playing with separated ribs. It was noted NBA insider Shams Charania who first caught wind of the Dame’s internal bruising.
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The story was since corroborated by ESPN’s Tim McMahon, who in turn, downplayed the injury (concern) for one important reason. “Not a story, he always plays through injuries,” McMahon revealed in a tweet this afternoon.
Injured or not, the Portland Trail Blazers don’t stand much of chance of conquering the reigning champs without their talisman at his very best. Lillard’s 32.6 percent shooting from the field is well below his average. His 4.7 turnovers per game is a higher percentage than any other player receiving regular playing time on either side. Game 4 takes place tomorrow night at the Moda Center in Portland. Hedge your bets with this knowledge at hand.