Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard made his long-awaited return to the starting lineup on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards. The Blazers went 2-4 during the six games that Lillard missed while he nursed his strained groin. As Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian writes, it was hard on Lillard to miss games with the Blazers in the thick of the playoff race:
“I was just trying to keep calm,” Lillard said. “It was harder than normal. Every other time I’ve had to miss games, it was like early in the season or middle of the season and it wasn’t such an important time. I just kept telling myself, ‘It’s going to be all right. If I take the time that I need to take and get all the way right, I’m still going to have time to be a part of that closing run.’”
Lillard also detailed what he told CJ McCollum following his return:
“We are both going to play a lot of minutes, we are going to get plenty of opportunity, but our team is going to be at our best when he’s doing what he’s been doing the last few games and I do what I do. That’s what is best for our team. So, I didn’t want him coming back worried about me coming back and not doing that because I can find my way with him playing the same way.”
Portland currently sits 3.5 games back of the 8-seed, Memphis, with 19 games left on their schedule. They will play six consecutive home games between March 7 and March 19, with a matchup against Memphis on March 12.
You can read more from Goldberg’s story here.