With seven games to play and playoff positioning on the line, Blazers' head coach Terry Stotts and Damian Lillard say they won't even entertain the thought of resting the star point guard or any other starters.
Statement by Lillard per Blazer's beat writer Casey Holdahl:
"Honestly, I don't even care to really talk about it. I'm gonna play, that's the bottom line. Our team is winning games when we need to win games, and that's all that matters."
Portland is just 2.5 games back of No. 5 seed Memphis and 2.5 games ahead of No. 9 Dallas, meaning the margin of error is small. Portland could move up and improve their first-round match up or miss the playoffs entirely. But even with a favorable schedule down the stretch, the Blazers are determined to do all they can to make the playoffs.
"We're trying to make it into the playoffs," said Stotts, "and we've got to do everything we can to make it into the playoffs."
Stotts addressed the strategy that other teams have employed, such as the Spurs, to give a handful of starters a night off on occasion. The reality is that the Blazers are in a different situation, with the NBA's third-youngest roster and plenty to play for.
...the players and coaches are adamant that finishing the season at full strength is more important than whatever small benefit they'd get from sitting out a few games before the start of the post-season. While that approach might work for more established, veteran teams, that's not where the Trail Blazers are in their maturation process.
"I know a lot of people make a lot of San Antonio resting players," said Stotts. "Tim Duncan played 82 games and 41 minutes a game as a 25-year old. I think it just depends on your situation."
Read all of Holdahl's analysis, here.