Blazers forward Joel Freeland to miss two weeks with right shoulder injury
Portland Trail Blazers center Joel Freeland left during the fourth quarter of their 115-107 loss to the Atlanta Hawks Saturday.
The Blazers announced following an MRI that Freeland will be out for two weeks with a right shoulder strain.
Freeland suffered the injury when going up for a block against the Hawks’ Al Horford.
Video of the play via YouTube user watchnba201415
Freeland has started in eight of the last nine games in place of Lopez and has averaged eight rebounds, five points and a block per game in Lopez’s absence. Head coach Terry Stotts has been won over by Freeland’s constant effort on every play and his hardwork has been revered by his teammates.
The Blazers defense has been elite with Freeland on the court, allowing just 93.9 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com. When he sits they give up 100.8 points per 100 possessions. Lopez is expected to be out until next month and the Blazers will certainly be shorthanded in the frontcourt over the next few weeks.
The Blazers depth at the center position will certainly be tested over the next few weeks with Chris Kaman being the only true center left on the roster. Meyers Leonard has switched to power forward but could see some time at center.
It’s also possible that the Blazers go with even more smallball line-ups with Aldridge at center. This also could open the door for more minutes for Thomas Robinson and even Victor Claver who has played in only three games so far this season.
Terry Stotts has expressed multiple times throughout the season that he has reservations with regards to pushing Chris Kaman’s minutes. But it will be interesting to see if Stotts budges off that and starts Kaman.
The Blazers schedule over the two weeks doesn’t look too bad at first glance. They have home games against the Lakers, Heat and Magic coming up next week.
But the following week will be a much tougher one to do without two of their top four big men when they face the Clippers (Jan. 14) and go on the road to place the Spurs (Jan. 16) and Grizzlies (Jan. 17).
The Blazers have answered the bell nearly every time adversity has hit this season. Down two centers, it seems the tests just keep getting harder.