The Portland Trail Blazers came into Thursday night’s game with the Pacers riding a four-game winning streak and finally seeming like they were putting things together after an offseason that bred significant optimism in the Pacific Northwest.
The last piece of the puzzle they’ve been waiting on to get back into the form of old has been Jusuf Nurkic, who arrived to training camp late after dealing with a family situation back home in Bosnia and recently explained that he’s still not back to 100 percent, physically or mentally. Still, he’s continued to put in the work to get his conditioning back and has had some glimpses of the Nurkic of old, all the while seeing the Blazers steadily find their collective form around him.
Unfortunately, the big man left Thursday’s game in the third quarter after suffering something of a freak injury, as the team announced quickly that X-rays revealed a fracture in his right wrist after he swiped down on a Malcolm Brogdon drive.
Nurkic took a swipe at the ball on defense and appeared to injure his hand. More info to come… pic.twitter.com/5Y4s5UDiOG
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) January 15, 2021
Jusuf Nurkić (right wrist fracture) will not return.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 15, 2021
It’s a brutal blow to Nurkic, who had five points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes before the injury, as he felt his best basketball was very much still to come this season. His return last season from a scary broken leg suffered late in the 2019 season was a big boon for Portland in their run to the 8-seed and his presence will be significantly missed for however long he is out with the wrist fracture — that it’s his right wrist may lengthen his return as that’s the shooting hand for the big man.
With Zach Collins likewise still sidelined with injury, Portland will likely turn to Enes Kanter and Harry Giles for additional minutes, as well as some small-ball lineups to make up for their lack of center depth. We’ll learn a firmer timetable for Nurkic’s return in the coming days but for now can simply hope for a speedy and full recovery.