Damian Lillard: I'm Going to Be Smart After Suffering Ankle Injury vs. Mavericks

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2018

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) handles the ball during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard suffered an ankle injury during Tuesday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks and was carted back to the locker room, per Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest.

With just four games remaining in the regular season, he acknowledged after the game he isn't going to try to be a hero.

"I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but I'm going to be smart about it," Lillard said, per Quick. "It's the end of the season, we're going into playoffs, so I have to be smart that one thing doesn't turn into another."

Portland is one of only three teams in the Western Conference to have clinched a playoff spot thanks to a 48-30 record. However, they could relinquish home-court advantage if they lose at least three of their last four games. 

Meanwhile, Lillard is putting together another tremendous season for the Blazers, who selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft. The explosive playmaker ranks fourth among qualified point guards in Player Efficiency Rating, per ESPN.com.

The 27-year-old Weber State product has remained mostly durable throughout his time in Portland. He only missed 12 games across his first five years in the league. He's missed some action during the current campaign with hamstring and calf injuries, though.

If the latest issue forces him back to the sideline, Shabazz Napier figures to take over the starting role at the point. It could also create more opportunities for CJ McCollum to run the offense and give Pat Connaughton more playing time in the backcourt rotation.

That said, the Blazers offense likely wouldn't operate anywhere near its usual level of efficiency without Lillard running the show. Portland needs him healthy if it's going to make some noise in the stacked Western Conference.

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