Getting McCollum back before the playoffs means everything for the Blazers. They can have him get back in rhythm now and not in the playoffs when they will need him. Without him, the Blazers will not be able to make a playoff run. With him, they are one of the best offensive threats in the league.
For the season, McCollum has been averaging 21.3 points per game. He takes some of the pressure of Lillard. Without McCollum, the Blazers went 8-2 and players stepped up for them. However, an injury to the center Jusuf Nurkic almost crushes any hopes the Blazers had of making a playoff run.
McCollum and Lillard will have to play really well if they want the Blazers to have a chance of making a deep run. Portland has better role players this year and that has been one of the weaknesses in the past. Now that they have fixed that issue, they are facing another issue, injuries.
Most teams in the NBA face injuries. That is just the reality of playing basketball. Some teams don’t get injured as often and other teams can’t avoid them. The Blazers seemed to have lucked out and that may be what decides the playoffs for them. As good as Lillard and McCollum are, they need a dominant big man and without one, more attention will be focused on Lillard.
What I believe will happen is that Lillard will get a lot of attention and that will leave McCollum in isolation plays. McCollum will be cold and will miss easy shots and teams will live with that. The game plan for beating the Blazers has already been laid out and may lead to a first round exit.