Loss of Roy is another obstacle for Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers feel like they have a very good chance to down the Phoenix Suns in a first-round Western Conference playoff series.

But the Blazers’ chances received a major blow Thursday, when it was announced that three-time All-Star guard Brandon Roy will undergo surgery today to repair a partial meniscus tear in his right knee.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” Roy said. “But if I’m going to be out there, I want to be contributing. If we’re fortunate enough to advance in the playoffs, having the surgery now gives me the best opportunity to help our team.”

Roy’s knee arthroscopy will be performed this morning at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver. A timetable for Roy’s return will be set following surgery — an initial window of 4-6 weeks was given when Roy’s meniscus tear was announced Monday. But Roy will be sidelined for at least the seven-game series against the Suns, which tips off 7:30 p.m. Sunday in Phoenix.

“This is a setback, but we’ve been overcoming injuries all season long,” Pritchard said. “This is about looking long term and doing what’s best for Brandon.”

Roy was adamant Wednesday night that he would do everything he could to play in the playoffs, going so far as to state that he was not concerned about the long-term effects of his injury, nor financial- and career-related issues.

But Friday’s surgery will mark the fourth time since high school that the former Washington standout has had a knee operation. And while Roy said he was willing to do whatever it took to help his teammates move on in the playoffs, a source close to the team said Wednesday it was very unlikely Roy would realistically take the court again in 2009-10.

Roy leads the Blazers in average scoring (21.5 points) and ranks second in minutes (37.2). He signed a five-year maximum contract extension last summer worth about $82 million.

Roy was replaced in the starting lineup by guard Rudy Fernandez during Portland’s final two regular-season games.

Wednesday, Blazers coach Nate McMillan said the late addition of Fernandez could spell trouble for Portland’s first-round opponent. Teams have not been able to properly scout the Blazers with Fernandez in the starting lineup, nor capture a significant amount of video.

“Sometimes, it is an advantage,” McMillan said. “I’ve seen that happen for teams. But can it happen over the course of a series? Who knows?”

While the loss of Roy will be a significant challenge for Portland to overcome, the Blazers have adjusted to adversity all season. The team missed 311 games due to injury — the most of any squad that qualified for the playoffs.

And while several Blazers professed serious respect for a Phoenix team that has added an improved defense to its trademark run-and-gun offensive attack, Portland guard Martell Webster said his battle-tested teammates are ready and waiting.

“We have to heighten our senses,” Webster said. “Every play has to be played with a sense of urgency. It’s like March Madness, man. Every play counts. Because one play can change the momentum of a game. We have to execute our game plan … and everybody’s mind has to be in it.”

The Blazers will host a free viewing party at the Rose Garden on Sunday for Game 1 of the team’s first-round series against Phoenix. The Rip City Uprise event will begin at the Rose Quarter Commons at 5 p.m. Parking is free in the Garden Garage. Doors to the Rose Garden’s south entrance will open at 7 p.m. Multiple large-screen televisions will be added to the club level, and the video board in the arena bowl will be lowered for optimum viewing of the game. … The Blazers sold all available ticket inventory Thursday in seven minutes for first-round playoff home games April 22 and April 24. Nearly 2,000 tickets for each game were sold. “The fan response was tremendous, and continues to inspire and amaze us. We really do believe we have the NBA’s best fans,” said Sarah Mensah, Blazers chief marketing officer.

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