It has been exactly eight weeks since Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum last played in a game at Moda Center.
Now, as he gets set to make his return Tuesday vs. the New Orleans Pelicans, there’s a buzz at the arena.
This will be the first time McCollum has taken the court since Jan. 16 when he suffered a left midfoot fracture in Portland’s win over Atlanta. Initially after missing the second half of the Jan. 16 contest, it seemed as if McCollum had escaped a major injury. It was first announced that he had suffered just a sprain, but an MRI later revealed a hairline fracture.
Ahead of tip-off against New Orleans, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts explained the excitement surrounding McCollum’s return.
“We’ve done a good job keeping our head above water, but it’s certainly good to have him back. I hope it doesn’t take him long to reach the level he was at when he got hurt,” Stotts said.
He also mentioned that McCollum will be limited, but there is no hard-set number on how many minutes McCollum is going to be allotted.
The Trail Blazers shooting guard was off to the best start of his career before injuring his foot. In 13 games, McCollum was averaging 26.7 points (47.3% FG, 44.1% 3-PT, 84.4% FT), 3.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
Despite McCollum not getting in a practice where the Blazers got up and down in a 5-on-5 scrimmage, Coach Stotts believes McCollum is still game ready.
“I think we’re comfortable with what he did to prepare to play this game,” Stotts said pregame. “It’s hard to have a five-on-five practice these days -- playing every other day, playing back-to-backs, traveling all that -- So, I think waiting for a five-on-five or even a three-on-three is difficult.”
Coach Stotts added that it “would’ve been ideal certainly, but not necessarily practical,” to get in a solid five-on-five practice.
McCollum will officially make his return to the Trail Blazers lineup vs. the New Orleans Pelicans with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m. PT at Moda Center.