Blazers say Lillard leaving bubble for tests on injured knee

Portland guard Damian Lillard is leaving the NBA's bubble at Walt
Disney World for further tests on his injured right knee.

Lillard will leave the bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, and
return to Portland on Thursday, the Trail Blazers said. He was
diagnosed Tuesday with a knee sprain, which occurred in Game 4 of
the team's first-round Western Conference series against the Los
Angeles Lakers.

The team did not make any mention if the uncertainty over the
remainder of the NBA season played a role in Lillard's decision.
All three NBA games scheduled for Wednesday - including Game 5
between the Lakers and Blazers, which Lillard would not have played
in and Portland would have had to win to extend its season - were
postponed as part of a player protest against racial injustice.

Players made the extraordinary decisions to protest the shooting by
police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday of Jacob Blake, a Black
man, apparently in the back while three of his children looked on.

Even if the playoffs resume and the Blazers were to extend their
series, Lillard would have to miss several days anyway simply for
leaving the bubble. He would have to quarantine for at least four
days upon his return.

Lillard was the unanimous winner of the MVP award during the
seeding games portion of the restarted season, the eight-game
stretch that got the Blazers into the play-in round against the
Memphis Grizzlies. He's averaged 30.5 points inside the Disney
bubble since the season restarted July 30.

Lillard willed the Blazers into the postseason with one dazzling
performance after another. Portland won their final three seeding
games by a total of seven points; Lillard had 51, 61 and 42 points,
respectively, in those games.

Lillard has been very durable during his eight NBA seasons, all of
them coming with the Blazers. They've played 703 regular-season and
playoff games since he was drafted; he's appeared in 670 of them,
or 95.3%, and started his career by playing in 286 consecutive
Portland contests, including playoff matchups.


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