The Blazers announced Tuesday that All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge will be sidelined for a week with a left groin strain.
A one-week absence will sideline Aldridge for four games, including three against Western Conference foes with playoffs aspirations. Portland, currently the West's No. 5 seed, will host San Antonio, Utah and Minnesota this week before visiting Denver on Feb. 25.
Aldridge, Portland's leading scorer and rebounder this season, has yet to miss a game this year, although he told reporters that he was playing through a "little groin injury" during two games last week. Indeed, the Blazers' starting lineup of Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez has not missed a single game due to injury in 2013-14.
There is little doubt that Aldridge is Portland's most indispensable player. The Blazers possesses a plus-6.6 net rating when he's on the court and a minus-8.3 net rating when he's off the court, a reflection of Aldridge's value and the team's thin frontcourt depth.
To make matters worse, Portland will be without reserves Joel Freeland (knee) and Meyers Leonard (ankle) during Aldridge's absence. Freeland was injured last week and will miss four-to-eight weeks with an MCL sprain; Leonard will be sidelined for two-t0-three weeks with an ankle sprain.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts will turn to Lopez and reserve forward Thomas Robinson in the short term. Small forwards Nicolas Batum, Dorell Wright and possibly Victor Claver can be expected to log minutes at the power forward position in small ball configurations.
Aldridge, 28, is averaging 23.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists (all career-highs) this season and was viewed by an SI.com panel as a top-five MVP candidate at midseason. The University of Texas product competed in his third career All-Star Game on Sunday, scoring four points and grabbing five rebounds. Portland entered the All-Star break with a 36-17 record. After a sizzling start, the Blazers are 12-12 since Dec. 28.