Michael Porter Jr. explains back tweak, expects to play "majority" of games

Michael Porter Jr. explains back tweak, expects to play "majority" of games

Updated: 5 months, 2 days, 8 hours, 30 minutes, 52 seconds ago

Michael Porter Jr. wanted to play against the Lakers on Wednesday night.

Despite tweaking a muscle in his back — the way Porter described his injury against Portland — he wanted to suit up against LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

What happened two nights earlier against the Blazers that prevented it?

“I couldn’t really move the same as I wanted to in the second half, so that’s when we were just like, ‘Let’s just calm it down for a couple of days,’” Porter said from shootaround Friday morning after raining in dozens of 3-pointers on the team’s practice court. “But it was just a little tweak in a muscle. It wasn’t anything related to a prior injury.”

Cooler heads prevailed. Porter appreciated that the Nuggets intervened and reminded him of what was at stake. “Be smart with it,” they told him.

Porter said he expected to suit up Friday night vs. Utah.

Porter didn’t have a typical offseason. Following his third back surgery, he entered the summer not knowing what he was physically capable of doing on the court. He played in some pick-up games, but not enough to know how he’d respond to the grind of an NBA season. As it turns out, three games in four nights is taxing for healthy players, let alone players coming off serious injury. Porter played against Utah, Golden State and Oklahoma City over four nights, prior to Monday’s Portland game.

His expectations for himself haven’t dampened despite the minor setback.

“I think I’ll definitely be able to play the vast, vast majority of games,” he said.

As his body gets healthier, he said he’ll become more resilient amid the bumps and knocks typical of NBA games — more able to tolerate those inevitable tweaks.

“Of course it’s frustrating (missing a game),” Porter said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world, either.”

At this point, Porter has the perspective of having gone through this before. He knows that ramp-ups aren’t linear and understands the pressure to perform is ever-present. It’s why he commiserates with Ben Simmons, who himself is returning from an extended absence due to a back injury in Brooklyn.

“People don’t really care,” Porter said. “You could say it’s a process all you want, but people just want to see production, here and now.”

With just 28 points through five games, Simmons has struggled with the burst that made him a nearly 16-points-per-game scorer throughout his career and a two-time All-NBA defender.

“It takes a while for explosiveness and athleticism and all those things to come back,” Porter said. “People are so hard on Ben Simmons. I know what he’s going through.”

His perspective becomes invaluable when applied to his own team. After each game so far this season, Porter has texted Jamal Murray and reminded him to celebrate the “small victories.” Even if Murray’s shots haven’t fallen with the regularity he’s accustomed to, Porter told Murray to take solace in the fact that he’s getting to his spots, and at least finding the areas where he used to burn defenses. Having missed 18 months, Murray’s touch will come. But getting to where he wants on the court is the first hurdle, Porter reminded him.

The overlying message from Porter to Murray was simple.

“Me and you, ‘We just gotta be thankful that we’re back out there and we can help our team.'”