Game Preview: Stretch Run Begins Without CJ vs. Pacers
After he suffered what looked to be a scary knee injury on Saturday night in San Antonio, CJ McCollum with miss his first of potentially a handful of games on Monday night vs. the Indiana Pacers.
It was announced on Sunday that McCollum has been diagnosed with a popliteus strain in his left knee. He will be re-examined in a week.
Luckily for the Trailblazers, Indiana has already lost its star in Victor Oladipo, who has been out with a knee injury since late January.
Nonetheless, Portland will play host to a Pacer's team that has found a way to succeed, a la the Ewing Theory, and they still pose as a tough out, especially when you are forced to play without one of your star players. The Pacers are currently No. 4 in the East, and are coming off of an impressive win over the OKC Thunder.
If there was ever a game for the Blazers to be able to take it easy and make sure they can cover all bases without CJ on the floor, this isn't it.
With CJ out, look for Rodney Hood to step into a more prominent scoring role, picking up the slack alongside Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic. In the past several games, Hood has shown his ability to be the playmaker that Portland hoped for when acquiring him at the trade deadline. This was highlighted by an impressive 27-point performance vs. the Charlotte Hornets a couple of weeks ago.
If the Blazers are able to stay afloat on offense, and can rely on a few role players to pour in a couple of buckets, then the first of four-consecutive home games should go smoothly, and a (hopefully short-lived) life without CJ can begin.