Portland’s star guard Damian Lillard vowed a dislocated left index finger won’t stop him from playing against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA playoffs on Saturday.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts said after his team’s lopsided 111-88 loss to the Lakers on Thursday that it was too soon to say if Lillard would be ready to go in game three.
But Lillard sounded certain.
“Oh, I’m playing,” he said after the Lakers leveled the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
Lillard left the game late in the third quarter after hurting himself as he tried to reach around Lakers star Anthony Davis for the ball.
Replays appeared to show his hand hit Davis’s foot, although Lillard himself wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said.
The loss of Lillard would be a massive blow to the Trail Blazers. He averaged 37.6 points in eight seeding games after the NBA restarted its pandemic-disrupted season in a quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.
He was named top player of the restart and propelled the Blazers to the eighth seed in the Western Conference. He lit up the Lakers for 34 points in Portland’s game one upset win.
Lillard didn’t return to Thursday’s game after departing late in the third quarter. Despite his determination to play game three, he acknowledged that he’s never dealt with a similar injury.
He tried to pull the finger back into alignment himself before Blazers medical staff took over.
“At that point I thought it was broken,” he said. I was just frustrated. It was bad timing.”
X-rays were negative, and Lillard returned to the bench with his fingers taped together.
“It’s just sore,” he said. “It’s just sore, a little bit swollen and uncomfortable.”