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Young Trail Blazers Learning How to Withstand Rigors of 82-Game Season

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Jason Quick of CSNNW reports that even though the Trail Blazers won't play again until their home meeting with the Boston Celtics on Thursday night, the young players on the team still have work to do on their days off.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Quick of CSNNW reports that even though the Trail Blazers won't play again until their home meeting with the Boston Celtics on Thursday night, the young players on the team still have work to do on their day off:

(Allen) Crabbe estimated that more than half of the team would be at the facility Tuesday, taking advantage of massages, ice baths, and some high-tech offerings the team provides to help the bodies of the players recover.

"I just feel like everything is different once you start playing every day,’’ Crabbe said. "When you know you have the responsibility and the team counts on you to come in and do stuff, you have to be in tip-top shape. And everything the training staff  tells you to do, we need to take advantage.’’

Quick also spoke with CJ McCollum about how he's spent his off-days this season:

After every road game, you can bet on one scene in the Trail Blazers locker room: CJ McCollum in front of his locker, both feet in a tub of ice water while he eats a plate of food on his lap.

...

"Obviously, there are tough days, with the travel and back-to-backs, but I feel like I’m taking the right steps,’’ McCollum said. "When you think about it, this is how I make money. This is how I provide for my family. So you have to be smart about what you are putting into your body, smart about your decision making between games and at night.’’

Blazers coach Terry Stotts, criticized by some for playing his starters heavy minutes even in blowout situations and back-to-backs, factors in how much rest he needs to provide. Quick reports that Stotts has instituted a handful of "blackout dates" when players aren't even allowed in the practice facility on certain off-days. But finding the balance between resting his players and keeping them active even when there aren't team obligations can be difficult at times:

Stotts says he tries to be cognizant of the players’ fatigue level, and he realizes that younger players, or players getting their first experience of playing every night, have to learn how to fight through the physical and mental fatigue of an NBA season.

"I need to be aware of it, but at the same time you have to fight through it,’’ Stotts said. "It’s a personal thing for each player. They have to find out what works best for them.’’

Lillard and McCollum have averaged 35.9 and 34.8 minutes per game this season, respectively, while no other Trail Blazer has played more than Al-Farouq Aminu's 28.4 minutes a night -- a career-high. Noah Vonleh, Moe Harkless, Gerald Henderson, Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard, Mason Plumlee and Crabbe all average between 15.5 and 26 minutes per game, rounding out the 10-man rotation Stotts' has employed for much of the season.

The Blazers are back in action Thursday night at the Moda Center, when they face the Boston Celtics (43-31, No. 5 in the East) for the second and final time this season. The Celtics handed Portland a 116-93 loss on March 2 in Boston.