Marc Gasol, the Raptors starting centre and backbone of their defence, appears to be getting a little longer off for his strained right hamstring than the team initially expected.
Head coach Nick Nurse, who as recently as Wednesday said there was a good chance Gasol would be back in the lineup Friday, now says the team will wait a little longer before bringing him back.
“Marc is here,” Nurse said. “He’s getting treatment. We’re gonna wait a little bit with him and give him a little bit more time. The main thing for me right now is that he’s fully, fully healed. We don’t want to go backwards again with this thing. The most important thing is he gets some games in before the playoffs. We’re just gonna sit tight for a little bit.”
Gasol returned from the initial hamstring injury after a month only to re-injury it eight games later.
Nurse would not be talked into revealing another expected return date or more specifically how many games he would like Gasol to get in before the playoffs.
“I don’t (have a number),” he said. “The minimum I would say would be 8 to 12.”
And while not having his starting centre playing for the time being cannot be viewed as a positive, Nurse, in his ever-optimistic way, did find a silver lining in the absence.
“I like to change those things into advantages,” he said. “I think the advantage is this: I think that Serge (Ibaka) is getting tremendous growth here. His minutes, his reps, the situations that he has to play in here, night in and night out — he’s having a great season and he’s becoming a better player. That really excites me.
“Take a disadvantage and turn it into an advantage,” he continued. “It probably gives us a chance to get (Chris) Boucher and Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) out there. Both (are) probably going to play out of position, but at least it gives them a chance to improve and see if we can possibly use them in the playoffs. We’ll look at it from the bright side. I think it will rest Marc in general, which I think is much to our advantage as well.”