The Portland Trail Blazers are still very much in the Western Conference playoff picture, but with the way they have been playing in recent days, they are in desperate need of their leader. On cue, power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is reportedly targeting a return on Thursday when the Blazers travel to Atlanta to take on the Hawks.
In a piece from Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest, Aldridge had this to say about the prospects of his return:
“I say I’m trying to go no matter what [against Atlanta on Thursday] but if I look good enough to play [in Wednesday’s workout], then I’m going to play,” he said. “It’s up to the medical staff.”
While that is nothing resembling a guarantee in terms of his status, it is big news for a team that has lost 8 of their last 11 games. The recent slide has knocked Portland from a home-court advantage contender to just 2.5 games from being out of the playoffs, but with Aldridge in the mix (even at 80%), they would be in much better shape. The 28-year-old big man has averaged 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per game this season, and prior to the injury, he was in the fringe discussion (i.e. after LeBron and Durant) for NBA MVP.
The Atlanta Hawks, Portland’s opponent on Thursday, have lost 3 consecutive games at the time of this post, but they do present a big-time challenge on the road, and without Aldridge, the Blazers could be in trouble.