The Portland Trail Blazers managed to nab the final playoff berth last season. Unfortunately, they were ousted by the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the postseason.
Despite the disappointing end to their season, the Trail Blazers were expected to be in the mix for another playoff berth this season. And they posted an 8-5 record through the first 13 games. However, CJ McCollum suffered a fractured foot and hasn’t played since mid-January. This marked the third such foot injury of his career.
Since McCollum has been out of the rotation, the Trail Blazers have gone just 14-11 during that stretch. And they have won just four times in their past 10 outings. On the flip side of the narrative, there is some good news. As reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, McCollum will return to the lineup on Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.
While McCollum has been out of the rotation for nearly two months, the Trail Blazers have a one-and-half-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 6 spot. And they are hanging tough with the Denver Nuggets, who have an identical 22-16 record going into Monday night’s action.
Prior to the injury, McCollum was having an All-Star caliber season for the Trail Blazers. In those 13 contests, he compiled averages of 26.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, and five assists per contest. McCollum is also shooting 47.3 percent from the field to go along with an efficient 44.1 percent conversion rate from the 3-point line.
True, the Trail Blazers are just six games over the .500 mark. On the other hand, they are just 3.5 games back behind the Phoenix Suns, who own the second-best record in the western conference.
With McCollum back in the lineup, look for the Trail Blazers to make up some ground in the conference standings. And as long as their talented backcourt remains intact, they should be a formidable opponent come playoff time.