Stephen Curry is expected to play for the first time in four months Sunday, while Paul George just returned from a hamstring injury that’s bothered him on and off during the 2019-2020 NBA season. Three All-Stars remain out with injuries that could have major implications on the playoff race.

Damian Lillard might be the most important player that’s currently sidelined. The Portland Trail Blazers are fighting to earn a postseason spot, and they haven’t had their best player for the last three games.

Lillard will travel with Portland on its upcoming three-game road trip, but the guard is reportedly likely to miss a few more games with a groin injury. Lillard is fifth in the NBA with 29.5 points per game and sixth with 7.9 assists per game.

The Blazers are 26-33, trailing the Memphis Grizzlies by three games for the West’s No.8 seed. Portland is 1-2 without Lillard, who won’t play again until at least March 4 if he sits the entire road trip.

The Boston Celtics beat Portland 118-106 on the road Tuesday night without their injured star. Kemba Walker hasn’t played since the All-Star Game because of a knee injury.

Jayson Tatum’s emergence as a superstar has allowed Boston to play well without Walker. The Celtics are 2-1 since the break, and their only loss was a 114-112 defeat against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Walker is unlikely to play Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz, according to NESN, though it’s considered a possibility.

Boston returns home Saturday to host the Houston Rockets.

If Boston hopes to make an NBA Finals run, Walker probably needs to be healthy. He’s averaging 21.8 points, 5.0 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.

The Celtics are firmly in the playoffs with a 40-17 record as the East’s No.3 seed. Boston is 1.5 games behind the No.2 Toronto Raptors and four games ahead of the No.4 Miami Heat.

The Philadelphia 76ers trail Miami by two games as the No.5 seed. Philadelphia is also a lock to make the postseason, though they could have a lot of trouble advancing beyond the first round.

Ben Simmons will miss an extended period of time with a nerve impingement in his lower back. The injury forced Simmons to leave Saturday’s contest against the Milwaukee Bucks. It was reported Tuesday that the All-Star will be re-evaluated in two weeks after undergoing treatment, but he’s unlikely to be close to returning at that time.

The 76ers are 2-0 without Simmons in the last week. They were beaten by 21 points in Milwaukee when Simmons missed most of the contest.

Simmons leads the NBA with 2.1 steals per game and is fifth with 8.2 assists per game. He’s averaging 16.7 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Joel Embiid has averaged 44 points in the two games without Simmons. Embiid has missed 16 games.

Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers watches the action against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana, Jan. 17, 2019. Andy Lyons/Getty Images