The Portland Trail Blazers are (sort of) hot on the trail of the Golden State Warriors – the West’s No. 6 seed and the conference’s final guaranteed playoff team as of March 8. PDX is just 2.5 games back. If Damian Lillard stays hot, the Blazers may be able to make one final postseason push.
That’s also dependent on the team’s health, though. Portland has been missing its starting center (and only player taller than 6-foot-9), Jusuf Nurkic, since Feb. 3. Anfernee Simons, the team’s second-leading scorer, is sidelined with an ankle injury.
There may be some good news on the Nurk front, however, heading into a key road matchup with the Boston Celtics.
Jusuf Nurkic has been upgraded to questionable for Blazers game against Celtics
For the first time since injuring his calf, Nurkic has been upgraded to questionable for the game against the Boston Celtics, via Trail Blazers PR.
Does that mean the Blazers are getting their starting center back? No. But it’s the closest Nurk has been to returning since the beginning of last month.
Without Nurkic’s presence, things look and feel a lot different in the paint for Portland. In 45 games this season, the 28-year-old 7-footer is averaging 13.8 points and 9.4 rebounds.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing this year, though, as the 290-pounder’s lack of agility and foot speed have been exposed more than ever on defense and his effort has waxed and waned.
Getting Nurkic back, though – whether it’s against the Celtics or one of the Blazers upcoming road tests with Philadelphia or New Orleans – will provide Portland with the size and rim deterrent it’s lacked for more than a month.
Blazers complete injury report:
- Out – Ryan Arcidiacono (lower back), Ibou Badji (knee), Simons (ankle), Justise Winslow (ankle)
- Questionable – Nurkic (calf)