How the Damian Lillard injury impacts Luka Doncic and the Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks, Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic, Damian Lillard / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard injury impact on Dallas Mavericks: 4. West playoff race

Lillard has dealt with his abdominal injury all season, and the Blazers have struggled. They are 12-17 with Dame in the lineup and 4-7 without him after winning their last two games. CJ McCollum has missed significant time, and Portland currently sits tenth in the Western Conference, despite being 16-24. The Kings, Pelicans, and Spurs are all within two games of the final play-in spot, which puts Portland in danger of missing the postseason entirely.

Lillard has helped the Blazers make the playoffs for eight straight years, but their streak is certainly in jeopardy. The Mavs believed Portland would be occupying one of the eight berths in the Western Conference heading into the 2021-2022 season as long as Lillard was suiting up for the Blazers.

Dallas wants to host a first-round series, but they are 5.5 games behind the currently fourth-seeded Utah Jazz at the midway point of the season. Catching any team in the top four will not be easy. The Mavericks must avoid slipping to seventh and being forced to take part in the play-in tournament. They have proven capable of defeating any team, and Dallas is hungry to advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Damian Lillard’s injury opens up the race for the final playoff position in the Western Conference and makes the Dallas Mavericks more comfortable in securing a top-six position.