Looking at the entire NBA, Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews is a pretty average player. He’s averaging just 14.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game this season. By most accounts, those are run-of-the-mill numbers. But for the Blazers his production is absolutely huge.
That’s why the entire Portland fan base probably held their collective breath on Wednesday when Matthews went down with an injury. The diagnosis was later called a high ankle sprain.
Matthews is known throughout the league as a tough guy that plays through pain quite often, including the sore elbow and ankle that he was already playing with before he sprained the other ankle.
However, high ankle sprains are so unpredictable. They are one of those injuries that are hard to judge in regards to severity and recovery time. Many times, players expect to recover from high ankle sprains quickly, but end up missing elongated periods of time.
For right now, Matthews believes that having the four day All-Star Break will allow him to fully recover from the injury so that he’ll be out on the floor for the Blazers’ next game. But with the uncertainty around high ankle sprains, that’s by no means a foregone conclusion.
If he misses a handful of games, it would be a huge blow to Portland. Matthews is one of only five players (all five starters) to average double-digit points this season. He also leads the Blazers in three-point percentage at 38 percent.
Because of that, whoever replaces him becomes the worry for the Trail Blazers. The two likely candidates are Sasha Pavlovic and Will Barton, who average 2.2 and 3.2 points per game respectively. Whether or not they will be able to put up the same numbers as Matthews is questionable at best.
This is also a terrible time for the Blazers to be without Matthews. Portland is only 25-28 at the moment and is trying to climb back above .500 and make up the three games in which they trail the eighth-placed Houston Rockets.
The Trail Blazers are probably praying that Matthews is correct and will be back right after the All-Star Break. If he’s not, it could legitimately put the rest of their season in jeopardy.