Jusuf Nurkic sends strong message as Blazers get closer to play-in series
The 25-year-old Bosnian Beast has given Portland a steady interior presence that they have been sorely lacking since the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign.
Jusuf Nurkic, on his — and Portland's — mindset: "I didn't work my ass off for 14 months, grind, grind, grind, to come down here and play eight games."
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) August 10, 2020
Jusuf Nurkic, of course, is talking about the Blazers’ quest to clinch that eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are currently in contention for a spot in the play-in series.
Via the new NBA rules for the bubble, if the No.8 seed is only four games or fewer ahead of the No.9 seed in the conference, a play-in tournament will decide who gets into the playoffs. It will be a best-of-two series, with the eighth-placed team needing to win one game in order to advance, while the ninth-placed squad will have to win two games.
Four teams are still in contention so far, namely the Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns and Spurs. The Kings and the Pelicans have been officially eliminated on Sunday.
Nurkic, meanwhile, tallied 15 points, six rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes versus the Sixers. He has been averaging impressive numbers of 19.6 points, 11.4 boards, 5.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks in five games.
The 25-year-old suffered a scary leg injury last year and willed himself physically and mentally to return to the hardwood. He was supposed to make his return last March but was caught up with the hiatus due to the pandemic.
This only made the big man hungrier than ever, and it clearly shows with his spirited performance so far for the Blazers.