Nicolas Batum (illness) missed practice yesterday with a fever. If he is unable to take the court tonight against the Utah Jazz, the Portland Trail Blazers will be without two of their starters for the first time this season. Confirmed absences include LaMarcus Aldridge (groin), Joel Freeland (MCL), and Meyers Leonard (ankle); all big men. “Small ball” is 98.6+ degrees away from being redefined in the Moda Center.
Nicolas Batum missed #Blazers practice today because of a fever/illness. It’s unclear what his playing status is Friday vs. the Jazz.
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) February 20, 2014
Batum is attempting to sleep it off as best he can. We will know more about his status by morning shoot around. A Batum-less lineup may be the closest thing Utah can get to a fair fight, as the Jazz (19-34) have the worst record in the Northwest Division and will be without Derrick Favors (hip). Yet now is not the time for underestimations. The Trail Blazers have slipped all the way to 5th in the Western Conference and they need to treat every game as if it were do or die.
If Batum sits, expect to see extended minutes from Dorell Wright and the recently activated Victor Claver, who tallied a season high seven minutes on Wednesday night against the Spurs. As long as they can handle it (questionable) I would rather Batum rest. The easiest way to stay sicker for longer is to not take good enough care of yourself when illness first strikes. On the bright side, at least it’s not another injury (knock on wood).