As the truncated 2020-21 NBA regular season winds down, there’s a number of players facing an enormous amount of pressure. Some of that has to do with the injuries we’ve seen as the Association attempts to complete its 72-game schedule.
Denver Nuggets star guard Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL recently, meaning that Nikola Jokic will have to continue picking up the slack. A lack of activity on the part of the Golden State Warriors ahead of the NBA trade deadline has put even more pressure on two-time MVP Stephen Curry.
With about a month to go in the season, here’s a look at five NBA players under the most pressure around the Association.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
After finishing last season with a mere 35-39 record, the Blazers have improved big time during the 2020-21 NBA campaign. It’s rather interesting stuff given that star guard C.J. McCollum has missed 23 games to injury. It also means that Lillard is playing the best basketball of his career. He’s averaging 28.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.6 assists on 38% shooting from distance.
At issue here is the Blazers’ playoff struggles during the Lillard era. They have been eliminated in the first round in three of the past four years. Currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference, Portland would love to find itself as a top-four seed when the playoffs come calling. That’s where the pressure is on Lillard over the final month of the regular year.