Chris Paul Reminds the NBA: Weve Yet to See the Real Trail Blazers

On two separate occasions this season, Phoenix Suns All-Star guard Chris Paul has contributed to his team getting the better of the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite those two victories, Paul had an interesting assessment of the Blazers, as highlighted by Lindsey Wisniewski of NBC Sports Northwest. After the game, he had a simple message. Dont judge this Portland team just yet. . . Easy as it is to forget, the Trail Blazers have played 36 games this season, missing CJ McCollum for 23 of them and Jusuf Nurkic for 24 of them. In gauging what the 127-121 win over a similar Playoff-type team meant, Paul noted that evaluating this Blazers team without their two other stars would be a bit premature. . Portlands problems are glaring, but its likely that the NBA world learns more about what this team is truly made of in a few weeks, when they presumably return to full health. Paul has gotten to see both sides of the spectrum during his career. Hes often been among those most victimized by teams that couldnt stay healthy. The 11-time All-Star also got a chance to see what this Blazers team could do with even close to full health just five years ago in a postseason matchup.

This Celtics-Heat trade features Kemba Walker to Miami

The Miami Heat could be looking to shake things up as we enter the second half of the NBA season. This could mean an upgrade at the point guard position. The Heat expect to be contenders in the postseason and a point guard could certainly help that notion. . This was a priority for the Miami Heat in the offseason. They brought back Goran Dragic but could still look to make upgrades. Miami has been linked to many big-name players, both in trade rumors and free agency. This is a chance to land an impact player at the top of the offense to team up with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. . Kemba Walker could be the star heading to Miami. The Boston Celtics signed Walker to a free-agent deal last offseason and has been a strange fit for the Celtics since his arrival. Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have been leading the Celtics in scoring this season but that is about it. . They have yet to find a way to make their teammates better and play defense at a high level. This is the reason that the Celtics have also underachieved this season. They are still in the top half of the Eastern Conference but have not looked like that championship team. This trade would certainly shake things up for both teams heading down the stretch of the season. Lets take a look at what it might look like to land Walker in Miami.

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets tip off second half vs. Grizzlies
The Denver Nuggets return to action for the first time since the NBA All-Star break on Friday, traveling to Memphis, Tenn. , to face a Memphis Grizzlies team as close to full strength it has been on the season. . . Playing its first game in eight days, Denver is looking to conclude a five-game road swing that began on Feb. 27 a perfect 5-0. The Nuggets won the fourth of their consecutive road games on March 4, 113-103 at Indiana, behind three 20-point-plus efforts. . . Among them was Nikola Jokic, who flirted with a triple-double at 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Jokic played his way into a starting spot at last weekends All-Star Game with averages of 27. 1 points, 11 rebounds and 8. 6 assists per game. . . I am playing the way Ive played since I was a kid, and Im just lucky to have coaches who gave me freedom in the past, and Nuggets coach Michael Malone gave me the freedom right now, Jokic said in his post-All-Star Game press conference of his ability to make an impact in multiple phases of the game from the center position. . . This season marked Jokics third straight as an All-Star, and the Denver post presence is a contender for the 2020-21 Most Valuable Player Award. . . Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins campaigned for Grizzlies second-year guard Ja Morant to receive an All-Star roster spot. Although Morant did not land his first All-Star selection, the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year leads a Memphis squad in contention for a playoff berth with 19. 8 points and 7. 8 assists per game. . . Morant missed eight games early in the campaign due to an ankle injury. Since his return on Jan. 16, the Grizzlies are two games over . 500 — including a 127-112 defeat of Washington on Wednesday in their first game back from the break. . . Morant was one of two Grizzlies with double-doubles in the win, scoring 21 points and dishing 10 assists. Jonas Valanciunas scored 29 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. . . Valanciunas likely draws the assignment opposite Jokic on Friday, as Memphis seeks back-to-back big defensive performances. On Wednesday against Washington, it was guard Dillon Brooks with the honors against NBA-leading scorer Bradley Beal. . . Brooks helped limit Beal to 21 points on 6-of-22 shooting from the floor. . . I just rise to the occasion and take on the challenge and see if he can last a full 48 minutes with a lot of physicality, Brooks said in his postgame press conference. . . With Valanciunas on Jokic on the interior, Brooks and the Grizzlies perimeter defenders will try to contain Jamal Murray. The Denver guard comes into Fridays matchup averaging 21. 8 points per game and has scored at least 23 points in every game since Feb. 14. . . On Feb. 19, Murray scored a career-high 50 points against Cleveland. . . Limiting Denver, the NBAs fourth-highest scoring offense at 115. 9 points per game, is not a one- or two-man task. Memphis will be able to go deeper into its rotation than it has much of the season. . . Ravaged by injury much of the season, the Grizzlies welcomed back Justise Winslow from a hip injury on Feb. 20. Brandon Clarke, who missed five games in February due to injuries, grabbed 10 rebounds on Wednesday.

Kelly Oubre Jr. out with a sprained wrist
The Golden State Warriors are wrapping up their first half schedule, but they’re suddenly without the services of one of their hottest offensive players. Kelly Oubre Jr. sprained his left wrist during Tuesday’s practice, and will miss Wednesday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
According to coach Steve Kerr, Oubre suffered the injury on a dunk attempt with a bad landing. It sounds like it could have been a lot worse.
Kent Bazemore will start in Oubre’s place, and it seems likely that Jordan Poole — who just rejoined the team after a scorching hot stint with the G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors — will see some significant minutes off the bench.

There’s never a good time to lose a player to injury, especially since Oubre had a sensational February in which he averaged 20.1 points per game and shot 43.0% from three-point range. With that said, suffering an injury right before the start of the All-Star break is about as good of timing as possible.

The Warriors play again on Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns, a game in which Oubre has not yet been ruled out for. Then they’re off for a week before returning next Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers.