The postseason always brings new energy, new focus, and new perspective.
For the Portland Trail Blazers, the players have discussed over the last two days their confidence in the game plan against the Thunder in their first round playoff series.
After Saturday’s practice, on the eve of Game 1, players and Blazers head coach Terry Stotts had something extra special to talk about.
Jusuf Nurkic made a special visit to the Trail Blazers practice facility Saturday morning.
It was apparent by talking with the players, Nurkic brought a new kind of happy energy to the team.
“Yeah, he was in film today,” Lillard said with a big smile.
“It was good to see him. I had seen before, but for him to show up here, I think it meant a lot to everybody,” Stotts said.
It has been nearly three weeks since Nurkic sustained compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula at home against the Nets.
The injury has left the Blazers trying to figure out how to fill the large void down low.
Saturday’s practice was about getting the necessary Game 1 prep in, but it was also about catching up with the Blazers' center.
“He came in during film session and surprised everybody,” Maurice Harkless said. “It was pretty cool.”
Saturday marked the first time Nurkic had visited the Blazers practice facility since the injury, but it was the second time Lillard and other players had got a chance to hang out with Nurk in the last couple of weeks.
“It was definitely good to see him outside of his house, moving around, in a better mood,” Harkless said.
Nurkic is currently walking around on crutches after being 18 days out from surgery.
Even though Nurk has not physically been around the team much, he has been with them in one way or another.
In typical Nurkic fashion, he made his teammates and Coach Stotts smile before the team really dug in to the film session.
Harkless told the story of Nurkic joking with Coach Stotts, as Nurk told Stotts, “I figured you might need a little help.”
“It was fun. Nurk keeps it light all time. You can tell he’s in a better mood than he has been,” Harkless added.
There has been a lot of speculation that Nurkic will be in attendance of Game 1.
Imagine the kind of reception the Moda Center crowd will give their one and only Bosnian Beast? The playoff energy combined with Nurk Fever would no doubt be an overwhelming feeling of emotions for fans, players, the coaching staff, and especially Nurkic as he continues the long road to recovery.
“His spirits seem to be moving in the right direction, which is important,” Harkless said.
A pregame announcement of Nurkic being in the building, would be a fitting way to tip-off the postseason vs. the Thunder.