As the Portland Trail Blazers return to practice in the NBA bubble in Orlando, questions remained about the fitness of both Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic as the two big men returned from injury. However, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Head Coach Terry Stotts said they looked good in practice.
Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts on Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins practicing today: “They both looked like the way we remembered them.” Portland is a dangerous threat for this restart.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 12, 2020
Quick expanded on Haynes’ tweet:
“They both looked like the way we remembered them,” Stotts said. “I told Nurk that — he’s the Nurk I remember playing at both ends of the floor. He made some really good passes, good rebounds. And Zach was full of energy. You couldn’t tell either one of them missed time. It was very encouraging.”
Nurkic last played for the Blazers in March of 2019, when he broke his leg during a match-up with the Brooklyn Nets. Collins hasn’t hit the floor since injuring his shoulder in a game against the Dallas Mavericks in October 2019.
Stotts isn’t the only one happy about Nurkic and Collins’ fitness. Damian Lillard is pleased that both big men will be returning to play.
“I’m excited about the style we are going to be able to play on both ends of the floor with those guys,” Lillard said. “It was just fun to see them back on the floor doing things that we haven’t really had the luxury of having this whole season. They both looked great, and that’s a great thing for our team.”
Quick reports that Lillard believes the team is there to “make some noise.” The Blazers will scrimmage against the Memphis Grizzlies on July 23rd. They start the 8-game play-in schedule on July 31st, also against Memphis.