Lillard to Push Through Injury for Blazers, Who Were 'Probably' Affected by Fatigue in Game 2

Every weekday, SI’s Chris Mannix will check in with his Bubble Bits, a quick hit on something notable from inside the NBA’s campus.
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla – News, notes and observations from a Friday afternoon in the bubble …

  • Let’s not bury the lede: Damian Lillard is going to play on Saturday. Terry Stotts confirmed that Lillard, who suffered a dislocated finger in his left (non-shooting) hand in Portland’s loss to the Lakers on Thursday, would be in the lineup on Saturday. Stotts said Lillard will received multiple treatments throughout the day and could wear a splint during the game. Lillard scored 18 points in Game 2, his lowest output in the bubble.
  • The Blazers played eight must-win games in the bubble, followed by a play-in game victory over Memphis. In Game 2, against the Lakers, they looked lifeless.
    • I asked Stotts: Was fatigue starting to set in? 

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      “I will say last night was probably the first time we didn’t have the same bounce. I don’t know if it’s mental or physical fatigue. We weren’t moving the same as we had in previous games. We’ve basically played nine playoff games just to get to this spot … it probably did take a toll at some point. But what we have proved is that we’re up to the task.”
      Is the fatigue manageable in a bubble environment where the Blazers have to play every other day?
      “Honestly I think it’s more manageable in this environment,” Stotts said. “There are no distractions. You have ample opportunity to get treatment and rest. There is no travel. Once you leave the gym, you have no distractions.”
    Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum (3) controls the ball against Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green (14) during the first half of a NBA basketball first round playoff gam
    • Austin Rivers didn’t mince words: “I’ve never seen our defense be like this. I’ve never seen our defense be this good.” Indeed, Houston has been downright stingy against Oklahoma City. The Thunder are averaging 103 points per game—seven below its season average. They are shooting 44.2% from the floor, down from 46.8% in the regular season. In the fourth quarter of Game 2, Houston held Oklahoma City to 20 points on just 33% shooting.
      • “We’ve had good stretches where we have had good defensive games,” said Rivers. “But we have never, ever felt like this and been in tune with our defensive play. Our chemistry, the way we talk, I’ve never seen it like this. It’s the best defensively we have ever been."

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      • TJ Warren was one of the bigger stories in the NBA restart, scoring 53 in Indiana’s opener and putting up 32-plus in four of his six games. Miami, though, has largely held Warren in check. Warren is averaging just 18 points. In Game 2, he missed all five of his free throws.
        • “We’re trying to get a good understanding of where he likes to be comfortable,” Andre Iguodala said. “He scores in a variety of ways. It’s really hard to pinpoint any particular place on the court he likes to shoot from or any particular place he likes to operate at. He gets the ball in the paint, he’s creative with his Euro steps, to one-legged fadeaways. He’s unorthodox. It’s kind of like an Antawn Jamison-type feel to it … he’s very active on the offensive end … you always have your antennae up when you’re guarding him.”

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