With just a few games left in the regular season, the Portland Trail Blazers are set to get a welcome boost, with shooting guard CJ McCollum upgraded to probable for the team's game against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, (9 p.m. ET -- Watch on FuboTV with NBA League Pass add-on).
CJ McCollum (left knee) upgraded to probable for Sunday’s game vs. Nuggets.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) April 6, 2019
McCollum hasn't played since March 16, when he landed awkwardly on a drive against the Spurs and strained the popliteus in his left knee.
Just a few minutes into the third quarter of that game, he went to the basket and had his shot blocked by Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl. When he landed, the baseline cameras caught him immediately grimacing and grabbing his left knee. After being looked at by the Trail Blazers' medical staff, McCollum was helped back to the locker room, where the team soon announced he wouldn't return.
McCollum spoke to media members about the injury after the game and said that the knee didn't feel "normal."
"I went up for a layup, a left-hand layup, and big fella [former Blazer Jakob Poeltl] blocked it," McCollum said, via ESPN. "I landed on my foot, kind of trapped my foot on the ground, felt my knee kind of twist. I was in pain. It hurts. You never want to get hurt, man. Not ever, especially at this point in the season. There's nothing I can do about it but rehab and see what they say.
"I can walk, but I'm not sure what the extent of it is. Obviously, on the replay it's hard to kind of see it because my foot is trapped and his body is there. But there's some discomfort, some pain in certain areas. So we'll see what happens. It's definitely around my knee, but I don't know the extent of it. I don't know if it's lateral. I don't know. I just know that it's not normal."
McCollum's return is obviously huge news for the Blazers. The shooting guard was putting together a strong season before he went down, averaging 21.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while shooting 38 percent from downtown. They were always going to need him for the playoffs, but especially so now that Jusuf Nurkic is out for the season.
Another bit of good news for the Blazers is that McCollum will get a couple of games to get back in rhythm before the playoffs, and won't be thrown right into high-intensity games.