Terry Stotts, the Portland Trail Blazers head coach, has announced that Jusuf Nurkic will play no part in their game four fixture against the Golden State Warriors on Monday, per Mike Richman of the Oregonian.
Nurkic had missed the final seven games of the regular season with a fractured fibula and was experiencing soreness and tenderness after his game three appearance. As a result, Stotts believed it would not be worth risking losing the big man for an extended period of time in a series that was all but over.
Stotts on Nurkic: “He didn’t do any further damage. There was soreness, tenderness & it just wouldn’t be wise to have him play through that”
— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) April 23, 2017
Golden State currently lead the series 3-0, and without their star center, Portland face an incredibly steep task overcoming their visitors. With the Cleveland Cavaliers becoming the first team to advance to the second round of the playoffs after they swept the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, the Warriors will be hoping to swiftly join them.
The 22-year-old made his return in game three on Saturday night after sitting out the first two games in the series due to his persistent right leg injury. Despite only seeing 16 minutes of action, the Bosnian center had 11 rebounds to go with four assists, two points and a block. The fans were excited to see their talented center back in the frame, but their joy was short-lived after his previous injury had once again flared up.
— NBA (@NBA) April 23, 2017
Nurkic, who was traded to the Trail Blazers from the Denver Nuggets on February 13th, has been an instant hit in Portland, averaging 15.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per contest over 20 games.
The 7-foot center’s injury was untimely for Portland. Nurkic would have offered stellar defense and rebounding, subsequently creating havoc against the small-ball lineups the Warriors often utilize. The series would have certainly been closer had the former Nuggets center been at full fitness.
With Nurkic out, more minutes will likely be given to Noah Vonleh, Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu.