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Damian Lillard Says Blazers 'Don't Have The Luxury" Of Load Management This Season

(via Sporting News)

(via Sporting News)

For Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers, the odds are against them to make a follow-up appearance to the Western Conference Finals this season. A roster change coupled with increasing competition in the West has made things incredibly difficult for the Blazers.

Damian Lillard and the rest of his teammates seem to be aware of the state of their current position.

“We’re not some big super team,” Lillard told The Oregonian. “So I don’t think we have the luxury to sit out, especially with how competitive the West is going to be.”

His running mate CJ McCollum sang a similar tune.

“The race in the Western Conference is extremely tight. I don’t know if we can afford to 'Kawhi it,' so to speak," McCollum said. "You’ll Kawhi your way out of the playoffs.”

The Raptors made a habit of sitting Kawhi Leonard for random stretches of the season, with the intent to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

The Trail Blazers finished third in the Western Conference last year, after posting a 53-29 record and advancing to the Conference Finals before being swept by the Warriors. Over the summer, their most notable addition was Hassan Whiteside, a known locker-room headcase and a rather one-dimensional player on the court. They will not have the luxury of sitting their stars in the same way Toronto did.

Even with all hands on deck, will it be enough to cover the losses of Myers Leonard and others? Only time will answer that, but so long as they have Dame and CJ leading the way, Portland will always be a force to be reckoned with in the West.