02 April, 2017
Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler shoots the ball over Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, left, and Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, March 28, 2017. The center will be re-evaluated after 2 weeks.
There's no other way to say it, other than Jusuf Nurkic saved the Portland Trail Blazers season, and now some surprise injury news to the Bosnian 7-footer may cost them their playoff positioning. For Portland, Nurkic has averaged 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and two blocks per game. He outplayed the man that who Denver chose over him as their future center, Nikola Jokic.
The Blazers average 108.3 points per game, which is their highest scoring average since 1992-93 (108.5). He took six 3-point shots for some reason (he made one), but all around it was a nice game. With seven games remaining it would be in the best interest for the Blazers to win the rest of their games and try to move up to the 7th seed to avoid playing the high-powered offense of the Golden State Warriors in the first round. That game put Portland in control of their playoff destiny. Their two home games come against a New Orleans team that decimated the Nuggets on Sunday and Oklahoma City, a team led by MVP frontrunner Russell Westbrook. "That's when I felt they couldn't guard me". If the Rockets play the game as if they don't need to win, and their competition comes out guns a-blazin' (pun intended), they could be in for a shock.
After recording 13 turnovers or more in four straight games, the Blazers have had 12 or fewer in the past two games.
Without Nurkic, though, putting together a surprise playoff run just got a whole lot tougher.
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"I have to do a better job of closing the game out", he said.
However, the real eye-popping stats have not been Nurkic's individual numbers, but how the team has fared with him in their starting lineup. Not only is there Lillard and C.J.
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I look at the way the Phoenix Suns celebrated Devin Booker's 70 point game this past week and that is exactly the losing environment that you don't want to see in Portland.