According to Chris Haynes of CSNNW, LaMarcus Aldridge (knee) will return to the Trail Blazers’ starting lineup for their matchup with the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. It marks the first time that every Blazer will be available for an exhibition game this year, with the exception of CJ McCollum (broken foot). Having cut E.J. Singler, Dee Bost, and Richard Howell yesterday, the Blazers will be implementing a more standard rotation that we can expect to see in the regular season.
LaMarcus Aldridge’s return is big for two reasons; it means that the soreness in his left knee does not present a problem, and that the Blazers get to have one more night of practice with all their players healthy before the game’s outcome counts toward their record. Terry Stotts has said that he will treat the contest as if it were a regular season game. Whether or not that means Aldridge will play his usual 35+ minutes is not yet clear, though one would hope to see him eased in with caution.
The Blazers have won their last four games and will meet the Warriors in the Oracle Arena with a full head of steam. Although Golden State is the better team on paper and in the rankings, it should be an explosive game. I always like to see Damian Lillard play in front of his hometown crowd. The Blazers will look to come away with a win and ride that momentum into the regular season, which begins on October 29th (though their opener is on the 30th). A healthy LaMarcus Aldridge may be just enough to make that happen.