The Portland Trail Blazers entered the regular season finale on Wednesday with little to play for, as they had already secured the number five seed in the Western Conference playoffs. But the game had some significance to Joel Freeland, who returned to play for the first time since February 11 due to a sprained MCL in his right knee.
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As reported by Joe Freeman of The Oregonian, the return of Freeland on Wednesday provided some depth in the front court which will be needed in the post season. After missing nine weeks, Freeland was getting anxious to get back on the court. His night was largely a success, scoring six points and grabbing seven rebounds in 18 minutes of action. All said and done, Freeland's knee felt solid and he was satisfied with his return.
“It’s relieving, if anything. It had been so long. I haven’t been out for two months — going on nine weeks — in my whole career. And to be out that long was tough. I didn’t think about (my knee) at all. And I haven’t over the past three or four practice sessions. And it’s been good.”Robin Lopez had seen the bulk of the minutes in the middle while Freeland was out. It remains to be seen how Freeland will be used in the post season. He could give significant minutes and be a difference-maker, or give Lopez a few brief spells throughout the game. Either way, Freeland will be ready.
“I think playoff basketball is what I do — it’s going to be tough, it’s going to be physical, it’s going to be a lot of push. I might, I might not, be playing as many minutes as I played tonight. But I feel like I’ll be ready for it.”Freeland averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 51 games as a rookie last season. In 52 games this season, he averaged 3.3 points and four rebounds in 13.9 minutes per game.