Trail Blazers' CJ McCollum Will Not Play vs. Heat Because of Illness

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2020

Portland Trail Blazers' CJ McCollum (3) brings the ball up court against the Charlotte Hornets during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, March 3, 2019. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum will miss his first game of the year after being ruled out of Sunday's game against the Miami Heat due to an illness, according to Casey Holdahl of the team's official site.

He has reportedly been feeling "crummy" for a few days and hasn't improved, per Holdahl.  

McCollum transformed from a little-used reserve over his first two NBA seasons into one of the league's most consistent scorers with four straight years averaging above 20 points. It's allowed him to form an elite backcourt duo with Damian Lillard in Portland.

The 28-year-old Ohio native has remained mostly durable during his rise to stardom. He appeared in at least 80 of the team's 82 regular-season games in three straight seasons starting in 2015-16. He was on track to reach that plateau again last year before suffering a knee strain in mid-March.

Though the latest absence might not be a long-term one, the team will need to step up in the backcourt. 

Kent Bazemore should see the biggest uptick in playing time alongside Lillard. Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. are other contenders to see more backcourt minutes.

Ultimately, the Blazers are one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA when Lillard and McCollum are both firing on all cylinders. Any type of significant setback for either of them would severely limit the team's upside in the loaded Western Conference.

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