The Trail Blazers, owning one of the most difficult finishing schedules in the NBA, will have ample opportunity to prove themselves against elite competition before the playoffs. Just don't anticipate it happening on Tuesday night.
Portland announced that both Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic will miss Tuesday's game against the LA Clippers. Lillard is due to sit out his third straight game with right hamstring tendinopathy, while Nurkic will sit to rest his fragile right knee.
The Blazers have remained mostly mum about the state of Lillard's hamstring since he was first sidelined for Friday's win over the San Antonio Spurs. Expectations were that he'd quickly return to the lineup, and remained as much even after it was announced Lillard would also miss Sunday's game against the Charlotte Hornets.
Obviously, Lillard sitting out for a third consecutive game – especially against a quality foe like the Clippers – adds a degree of concern to his current injury status. While his ongoing absence still may be most about the accumulation of several minor maladies, Lillard's overall health is an increasingly bold question mark as Portland embarks on a tough final month of the season.
Nurkic missed Portland's last matchup with LA on April 6th due to right knee inflammation. After returning one game later against the Utah Jazz, he was again on the shelf on April 10th versus the Detroit Pistons, this time for his current designation of injury management.
Enes Kanter will start in place of Nurkic on Tuesday night. Derrick Jones Jr. opened for Lillard on Friday, only to be benched entirely in favor Rondae Hollis-Jefferson against the Hornets.
Portland LA tipoff from Moda Center at 7:00 p.m. (PST),