Entering tonight, no unit had played more than the Trail Blazers’ starting lineup of Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez.
That lineup also saw the most minutes last season of any lineup that returned in tact this season.
Portland has a lot of things going for it, but don’t underestimate simple familiarity.
Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, their chemistry has taken a short-term hit.
Portland Trail Blazers small forward Nicolas Batum will miss both Tuesday night’s game at the Moda Center versus the Charlotte Bobcats and will not travel to Denver for Wednesday’s game, either, head coach Terry Stotts said pregame.
Batum suffered a right knee contusion Sunday night in the closing minutes of the Blazers 116-100 win over the Denver Nuggets when the Blazers forward was going up for a rebound of the defensive end when he collided with Nuggets’ big man Timofey Mozgov.
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Allen Crabbe started for Batum against Charlotte, and he scored just two points in 22 minutes. But the Trail Blazers overcame a 23-point deficit for a 102-100.
As long as Batum is out, Portland will face a stiff challenge. That doesn’t mean the Trail Blazers should rush back their do-it-all forward.
There’s never a good time to lose a player of Batum’s caliber, but Portland’s upcoming schedule — especially consider it’s a Western Conference team — is relatively easy. The Trail Blazers could probably better afford to sit Batum now and let him fully heal rather doing so later in the season.