OAKLAND — Up in Portland, the Blazers remain coy about the availability of Jusuf Nurkic, their young impactful center who suffered a fractured fibula late in the season, missed the final couple weeks but remains hopeful for a return against the Warriors.
Nurkic is officially listed as questionable for Game 1. He has been seen post-practice taking jumpers by reporters around the team, but Portland coach Terry Stotts told them he didn’t participate in practice, though has been part of the preparation. His availability likely won’t be known until near tip-off on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier in the week, Kerr acknowledged that Nurkic’s questionable status has made planning “a little trickier” because “they’re very different without him.” So he doesn’t blame the Blazers for keeping his availability a secret.
“I would do the same thing,” Kerr said.
After getting traded from the Nuggets to the Blazers in mid-February, Nurkic revitalized Portland’s season, giving them a productive offensive post threat and shot-blocker.
With him, the Blazers can attack both levels of the Warriors’ defense and hope a rebounding advantage can help an unlikely shot at an upset. Without him, Portland’s likely to go smaller more, a dangerous tactic against a Warrior team equipped to shred teams with a smaller guard and wing-heavy lineup.
“Definitely changes the series whether he’s in or out,” Draymond Green said. “Completely different team.”
Draymond Green from practice yesterday on GSW’s focus, what Nurkic changes, more pic.twitter.com/RZh84YpM33
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 15, 2017