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SCORESHEET/Reflections on the NCAA Tournament, Ducks, Tar Heels, Zags; women's golf flap was handled correctly

The way they were

The Trail Blazers are, in effect, three games into a seven-game "preseason" — the seven final games of their regular season, which have, more important, turned into the seven games they have to get ready (without injured big man Jusuf Nurkic) for an expected first-round playoff series against Golden State.

That's the good news — that the Blazers have seven games to adjust to the loss of their 7-foot "Bosnian Beast," assuming he doesn't return from his broken right fibula.

The Blazers will check with the doctors to see if Nurkic has healed enough to go in the playoffs. He might be able to pull a Willis Reed, although it would be prudent for the Blazers to be careful for broken legs on star players weighing close to 300 pounds (two words come to mind: Sam Bowie). Nurkic could be the center of the next 10-plus years for the Blazers; no reason to jeopardize that now.

What an emotional lift Nurkic would provide, though, and it could happen. With him, Portland was playing at a rate of a 65-win team, which means the Blazers, with "Nurk" were more like a No. 1 or No. 2 seed than a No. 8.



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