If it were the regular season, Enes Kanter would not be playing in a game on Monday night. He suffered a shoulder separation in the closeout Game 5 for Portland last Tuesday, and he pushed through the pain to stay in the game at the time.
He admitted to being in pain now but told reporters on Friday he plans to push through it and hopes to play Monday in Game 1 against Denver or San Antonio (that Game 7 is Saturday).
“I mean obviously, I’m not going to lie, it hurts pretty bad,” Kanter said. “I mean I’m having a hard time changing my shirt or eating food. So it’s a process. We’re just taking it day by day, see how it feels.”
Coach Terry Stotts essentially said Kanter would be a game-time decision on Monday.
With Jusuf Nurkic out, Kanter stepped up in the first round against Oklahoma City averaging 13.2 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. More importantly, he played solid defense, dropping back on the pick-and-roll with Westbrook and challenging shots when the Thunder guard drove. Kanter was so impactful in Game 1 against the Thunder —20 points and 18 rebounds — Damian Lillard said he was the game’s MVP.
The Trail Blazers will need more of that in the next round to advance to the conference finals.