Kanter makes Nurkic forget

The Turkish player is perfectly supplying the Bosnian downside and is standing out in the playoffs against the Thunder, his former team.


When last March 27 Jusuf Nurkic was injured against the Nets, very few bet for the Blazers. A team that did not play a conference finals since 2000 and that had signed surprising regular seasons in recent years but had crashed again and again in the playoffs also remained without its revelation player of years and one of the best indoor men of the campaign.

The loss of his starting center opened the door to Enes Kanter. The Turkish player, 26 years old, had been acquired mid-season from the Knicks to reinforce the bench. Kanter is not a bad player. He is a tall man with good mobility, good counterattack and a machine to score many points in a few minutes, but his consistency and low defensive level presented many doubts in the face of the playoffs. In the final phase you need to defend and know how to play on both sides of the court, and the pivot had already had many defensive problems in its passage through the Thunder and now had to go from being a substitute with guarantees to a solid starter if the set of Terry Stotts did not want to lower the level in the final part of the season

Actually, Kanter has responded very well to the challenge. After Nurkic's injury, the feeling was that the Blazers were going to get back in the first round, and that the fight to face them was fierce in the lower East (Spurs, Thunder, Clipppers). But nobody expected the team to maintain the level. Neither is that the pivot had not warned. In the last 7 games he played in the regular season, with Nurkic already on the bench, pledged 19 points and 12 rebounds, with 6 double-doubles and 5 wins for his team.

But the thing does not end there. The real test was in the post season, before his former team and specifically in a particular duel that seemed very interesting as was his with Adams in the area. The Turkish has lowered its numbers regarding the last matches of the regular phase, but has been superior to his former teammate in the area and has established himself as a solid pillar in the defense of the team along with Aminu and Harkless (among others). It's in just over 13 points and almost 10 rebounds per game ... and Adams is leaving in 12 + 8 when in regular season was in 14 + 10.

In the first game of the series was the most comfortable player was of the Thunder in the direct duels against Kanter: they agreed on 58 possessions and the New Zealander scored 17 of the 54 points of his team in the same ... but the Blazers finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds and ate the one from the Thunder, especially under the boards.

Although Kanter has not re-signed those numbers in any game, Adams has taken a downward trend in his duel with the Turk, disappearing almost completely in the last two games. In total and in what we have series, the OKC has been defended by Portland in 199 possessions, and has scored 39 of the 211 points of his team in them and has only given 3 assists and also lost 6 balls. If the duel or we put just the other way around, with the former Knicks attacking on his old partner, we go to 181 possessions in which he has scored 28 of the 210 points of his team, less than Adams ... but he has dealt 7 assists with him and is only in 3 losses.

They are being a playoffs in which the player is claiming. In addition to its improvement in defense, the center saves time as it has us accustomed, and is the third highest scorer of the team (the aforementioned 13 per game) in less than 30 minutes of play per game (28.5) , being also the maximum rebounder of theirs (9.5). Good numbers and good feelings for an athlete still young and with much development ahead. And even better sensations for the Blazers, who go 3-1 in the tie and are quiet mouths, showing, at the moment, far superior to the Thunder and having the second round within reach.



Photos from as.com

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