Joel Freeland’s status for Sunday’s game against the Golden State Warriors has been upgraded to questionable. The 6’10” backup center has been sidelined with a sprained right MCL since February 11th. If he returns to action tomorrow, he will have missed 29 games (if you count the game against OKC in which he sustained the injury during the first quarter… which I do).
Despite earlier reports that Freeland would be unable to return before the NBA playoffs, it sounds as if he may be able to play in one or both of the Trail Blazers’ last two games. After hosting the aforementioned Warriors tomorrow, they will welcome the Clippers back to Moda on Wednesday for their final regular season performance.
The Trail Blazers still have a shot to take the fourth seed from the Rockets, but Houston would have to lose two of their next three while Portland wins out. It might be best for Portland to use the rusty Freeland in small doses if they are serious about chasing this prospect. I doubt Freeland will be capable of more than a few minutes right off the bat anyway.
According to head coach Terry Stotts, Freeland looked good in the Trail Blazers’ full court scrimmage this afternoon:
“He moved well, it didn’t look like he was favoring it. His conditioning wasn’t too bad. Today he went full court a little bit. I think he’s made good progress. This is the first time I’ve really seen him play. He’s done a lot of drills and things, but I thought he looked good.”
- Via Mike Tokito, Oregonian
We will know more about Freeland’s status tomorrow, as he prepares to make his return. If he is able to contribute at the same level he did before the injury, his presence will be a pleasant boon to Portland’s interior defense – just in time for the playoffs.