The respective injuries to Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray and Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter have raised several questions regarding the series between the teams of these two former Kentucky players. The Trail Blazers currently holds a 2-1 lead over the Nuggets with a pivotal Game 4 taking place in Portland on Sunday night.
Murray (right thigh) and Kanter (shoulder) have been dealing with injuries since the series began, both reaggravating them sometime during the round. Here are the updates on both players as of Sunday morning.
Jamal Murray is dealing with a right thigh injury from the first round series against the Spurs that he reaggravated in Game 2 against the Blazers. He played 55 minutes in the four-overtime Game 3 death match that saw Portland sneak out with a win, much of it through significant pain.
He was noticeably exhausted towards the end of Game 3 – along with everyone else on the court – and could barely get his feet under his shot. Playing that many minutes on a sore thigh while trying to hoist up 25-footers cannot be an easy task. Odds are Murray isn’t going to be playing at 100 percent health any time soon, but that won’t keep him out of the game.
“I always play through pain,” Murray said after Game 2, according to the Denver Post. “It’s something I’ve always done. I always put myself through more and do more than I can. Playing through pain is just another challenge for me. I’m gonna do it regardless of the stakes. Just try to be smart about it, obviously. If it’s something I can play through, it’s what I’m gonna do.”
Murray is expected to play in Game 4.
Enes Kanter’s injury is a bit more significant – especially since he keeps making it worse. Kanter played a career-high 56 minutes on Friday night and reinjured his already separated shoulder during the first overtime.
“First overtime, I think I separated my shoulder more,” Kanter said postgame, according to ESPN. “I had to tuck my arm into my jersey because I couldn’t carry my arm. I’m glad we got a win, man. Whatever it takes. You’ve got to sacrifice everything. I’m proud of my teammates.”
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 4, 2019
Kanter originally separated the shoulder during Game 5 of the Blazers’ first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder and was listed as questionable to begin the second round, but has played massively important minutes for a Portland team desperate for his production. He’s averaged 19.7 points and 10.3 rebounds through the first three games.
I’m not a huge fan of Kanter snitching to the NBA because he doesn’t like how Nikola Jokic is trying to box him out in a playoff game, but I do get why he’s doing it. Jokic did make contact with Kanter’s shoulder, but also, c’mon, this is the playoffs. Bully him back if you don’t like it. The referees aren’t going to call that.
Kanter also apparently injured his right elbow during Game 3, as well. He was icing both his shoulder and elbow after the win. There was a point during the game where Kanter said he could no longer feel his shoulder. I’m no doctor, but that sounds bad.
“I hope I can play,” Kanter said. “But I’ll be fine.”
Game 4 tips off at 7:00 p.m. on TNT in Portland.