Portland guard Evan Turner is “out” tonight as the Trail Blazers host the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night (10:30 p.m. EST, TNT), Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports.
“The veteran will quickly be absent once more as he attends to a personal matter,” RotoWire writes. “It’s unclear if he’ll be back for Saturday’s contest against the Suns.”
Turner was made available in Tuesday’s 120-111 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. He failed to record a point in 10 minutes but added 5 rebounds. On the year, he averages 7.3 points, 3.8 assists and 4.6 rebounds a contest.
With Portland sporting a 39-25 mark and holding the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference standings, the Trail Blazers are looking to enter the playoffs with all hands on deck. They actually have a 56 percent chance at clinching a higher seed for the postseason (per Playoff Status).
Here’s the roster outlook and lineup without Turner tonight.
Trail Blazers Roster and Lineup vs. Thunder
Turner’s absence provides an opportunity for head coach Terry Stotts to flex his backcourt depth. Since going down Feb. 21 against the Nets, Turner has given way for more minutes to guards Rodney Hood and Seth Curry.
The pair have combined to score 17.6 points a game in 2018-19. Hood racked up 27 points, including 3-of-6 from deep, in a 118-108 victory over Charlotte on Sunday. Turner has only reached double figures 7 times since the start of the new year. He also lacks Hood’s range, hitting just 15.2 percent of his triples.
Curry, the younger brother of Golden State Warrior star Stephen, is a deadly shooter from 3. He connects on over 45 percent of his 3-pointers, and canned all 5 of his attempts in a win over the Cavaliers on Feb. 25.
Doug Patrick of Rip City Project says that Turner’s absence, and the subsequent production from the bench, is a net positive.
In his absence, Portland has staggered Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum‘s minutes more regularly and played a faster brand of basketball with a second-unit that features two of the team’s newest acquisitions, Rodney Hood and Enes Kanter. What’s more, Maurice Harkless is finally reemerging after a mostly mediocre season to this point – feeding off more advantageous offensive positioning inside and in transition.
If the second-unit looks flatter and/or the team loses to a faltering Memphis team, calls to keep Turner on the bench could grow.
Trail Blazers Outlook Tonight vs. Thunder
Team Rankings gives Portland a 60.9 percent chance of topping the Thunder, the No. 3 team in the West. With the Trail Blazers looking to strengthen their playoff positioning, a win here would increase their chances at the 3-seed to 29 percent. It would bolster the prospects at the 4-seed to 23 percent and 2-seed to 10 percent.
Those scenarios would create a first-round matchup with either the Spurs, Jazz or Rockets.
Oklahoma City has dominated the season series, taking the first 3 by 20 combined points. The last time the two met was a 120-111 Thunder victory in Oklahoma City on Feb. 11.
Paul George tallied 47 points last time, while Russell Westbrook notched yet another triple-double. One thing Turner adds is length on defense, so it remains to be seen if Portland can cope against the Thunder’s star duo.