Trail Blazers fans and the local media have been able to digest and analyze Portland’s Second Half of the season schedule since it was released Wednesday afternoon.
But what about the Blazers?
Future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony smiled when asked about the difficulty of the compressed schedule.
Following Thursday’s practice ahead of their game against the Los Angeles Lakers in L.A. Friday, Melo discussed his initial thoughts on the Second Half.
Making sure not to really get into the weeds of the schedule is a common theme.
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts added, “I didn’t really dive into it, but it’s -- I mean, 10 back-to-backs, a couple long homestands, a couple long road trips -- we kind of knew it was going to be more compressed trying to get all the games in.”
The Trail Blazers will have a week-long break with the All-Star break beginning on Mar. 5.
And then it’s back to work.
Portland will tip-off the second half of the season when the Blazers host the Phoenix Suns on March 11.
As the schedule stands right now, the Blazers will play 37 games over the course of 67 days – that’s, of course, if no game gets postponed or cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.
During the First Half of the season, the Blazers played 35 games over 72 days.
As for the number of back-to-back to finish out the season – Portland will endure a total of 10 back-to-backs.
There were seven in the First Half.
The back-to-backs caught Melo’s attention.
“Of course I looked at the back-to-backs for sure,” Melo said with a smile. “But, at this point, man – we’ve got to play basketball and whoever we play, if we play back-to-back, we’ve got to figure it out.”
With an 18-13 overall record, currently sitting in the 5th seed, the shorthanded Blazers have figured it out.
And now, the hope and thought has been that Portland will get both CJ McCollum (left mid-foot fracture) and Jusuf Nurkic (right wrist fracture) back soon after the All-Star break, if not immediately after.
The two are set to be reevaluated next week.
When asked if there was any timeline for either Nurkic or McCollum to return, Coach Stotts says there is no official date at this point.
"We’re hopeful to get them back sometime, but we really don’t have a timeline… They’re just doing individual work [right now]."
Nurkic did not make the trip with the team, whereas McCollum has been on Portland's three-game trip since they left for Phoenix last Sunday. Stotts says McCollum was going through light shooting and ball handling drills in L.A. while the team practiced.
“Nurk’s in Portland, working in the gym," Stotts explained. "The benefit that he has is that since it’s a hand injury, he’s running up and down the court and doing a lot of drills that don’t involve his right hand… CJ is able to do a little bit more each day… But he’s not running. So I’m reluctant to put a timeline on it or anything like that. ”
Getting Nurkic and McCollum will definitely aid in the depth department of this Trail Blazers roster as they get set for the Second Half gauntlet.