Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is expected to miss two games after taking a hard fall against the San Antonio Spurs last night. X-rays came back negative, so Aldridge will be reevaluated sometime next week. For now, the injury is being called a “back contusion.” Aldridge will miss the Trail Blazers’ game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday and the game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. Future absences and availabilities remain to be determined.
In Aldridge’s absence, Dorell Wright is likely to get the starting nod. He has the most experience of any forward on the roster, and the Trail Blazers have experienced small-ball success without Aldridge in the past. Thomas Robinson will also see his role increased.
In the backcourt, Portland is expected to be without reserve point guard Mo Williams for at least two weeks. An MRI confirmed that Williams suffered a right hip strain against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. If two weeks remains an accurate timetable, Williams will miss the Trail Blazers’ next eight games. Guards CJ McCollum, Earl Watson, and Will Barton will all take on larger roles in order to fill Williams’ shoes.
The rash of injuries is reminiscent of last season, when the Trail Blazers fell from the playoff race after sustaining too much damage to their core. Though I do not believe Portland will fall that far, it is concerning that they have lost four games in a row (their most consecutive losses this season) and now must continue without two highly valued pieces.
There is a silver lining, however. The Trail Blazers are in a unique position where they match up well against the West’s top teams (San Antonio, Oklahoma City), but not so much against the middle of the pack (Los Angeles, Houston). A free fall within the top-8 could be ultimately beneficial for Portland’s post-season. The playoff landscape may be more favorable by the time the Trail Blazers can compete at full strength. Unless they triumph through adversity, of course, which is a distinct possibility.