Nate McMillan hasn’t slept in almost a week.
The restless nights began a few days before the series with Phoenix opened last Sunday. It’s almost routine now. “Nobody sleeps at this time of year,” McMillan said, motioning towards his players and assitant coaches.
McMillan and the team returned from Phoenix early Wednesday morning. He got home around 2:00AM. And though the schedule is exhausting, McMillan says there’s too much on his mind to get real, restorative sleep. “You just doze,” he said.
So at 6:00AM the McMillan got back out of bed. By 8:00AM he was back at the Blazers practice facility watching tape. And around 2:00PM, after practice and done answering questions before the horde of media, McMillan headed back into his office—presumably to watch more tape and plan for Thursday’s game.
“It’ll be over soon enough,” I said before catching myself. “Well, hopefully not.” He just smiled. Tired, yes. But happy just the same.
McMillan’s main message to his team and to the media was energy. It isn’t about adjustments, he said. It’s about tenacity and will.
Nicolas Batum, part of the injury train including an ankle-iced Marcus Camby and a knee-wrapped Brandon Roy, followed back into the team huddle after practice. An MRI showed Batum has a strained shoulder, not the recurrence of a torn labrum as originally feared.
The shoulder, Batum says, remains painful, but he expects to play. Team doctors will weigh in Thursday morning. At this time, Batum is technically a game-time decision.
From this vantage point, I see Batum as determined to play, regardless of pain. He sits only if doctors make him.
Brandon Roy watched the first game at home. He wanted to be alone.
“Game one was the hardest,” Roy said. He just wanted to be there so bad. Instead Roy was stuck on the couch, his post-surgery knee elevated.
It was a serious enough feeling where Roy wanted to be focused—and free from other’s comments and suggestions.
Game two was a bit better (even if the result was worse). Roy watched with his family in Seattle as the Blazers fell in Phoenix.
Wednesday Roy was back in the practice facility, but didn’t go through regular drills with the team. After working in the weight room, Roy met with reporters, sharing that wherever media talk of a one or two week return came from was somewhat unfounded. Roy says he got a call from the doctor asking if he himself shared such info with the media. He had not.
Roy is ahead of schedule, but is not meaning to suggest that he would return unless the Blazers get through the first round.
Rudy Fernandez has been frightful in the place of Brandon Roy. In to games he is a combined two of nine from the field (%22) and has scored just 10 points.
Yet he decided to spend some practice time Wednesday working on half-court flings:
Andre Miller, who had a private meeting in the coach’s office afterward, met the media in a more jovial mood than usual. He talked about getting himself more involved after the switches in the Suns’ defensive scheming and more:
LaMarcus Aldridge also had a few words in how he hopes to have more of an impact. Wish he was a little more fired up?