The Portland Trail Blazers looked like they were shaping up to be a real challenger to make the NBA finals, holding the second best record in the incredibly tough Western Conference.
That was until last night, when star shooting Wesley Matthews ruptured his achilles tendon and will be forced to sit out the rest of the NBA season and the playoffs.
Matthews had to be helped off the court after suffering the injury when attempting to drive to the rim in the third quarter of the Trail Blazers' 94-75 win over the Dallas Mavericks.
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"It's disbelief, you know?" he told reporters after an MRI confirmed the rupture, according to ESPN. "I'm sitting up there in that tube having an MRI, and I don't hear noise, I don't feel my Achilles, I'm just ... . I can't believe I'm up there while my team's battling. I just haven't processed all of it yet."
The 28-year old will have to undergo surgery which is yet to be scheduled. A typical recovery time given for this type of injury would be 7-9 months, but it will almost certain be at the deeper end of that timescale.
He immediately reached for his left Achilles as he grimaced in pain.
"I've made that same cut hundreds of thousands of times in my life," he said. "I felt the initial pop, and I think you guys could tell on the replay, I looked back, and it feels like someone kicked you. I was praying that someone was back there. No one was back there, and I heard Ron [Garretson], the ref, he actually says, 'Oh no' like he knew."
The mood was somber in the Trail Blazers' locker room as Matthews' teammates lamented the loss of the player fans call "Iron Man" for his toughness.
"It's tough, man. He's the heart and soul of this team; he brings a lot to this team," LaMarcus Aldridge said. "I've played with him seven, eight years now, so not having him out there is going to be tough."
Matthews has been averaging 15.9 points, 2.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 33 minutes this season. His defensive missed will be gravely missed during the playoffs.
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