The basketball gods have turned against Zach Collins.
Three games into the season, he was sidelined with a separated shoulder, an injury that required surgery. However, the coronavirus-forced break in the season gave him a chance to get healthy and return in Orlando, where he started every seeding game for Portland. In eight-bubble games , Collins averaged 6.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. He started Portland’s play-in game against Memphis but went to the locker room midway through the first quarter and did not return.
Now we learn he is out for the remainder of the season — again — this time to have surgery on a hairline medial malleolus stress fracture of his left ankle, the team announced.
Collins provides size, athleticism, and shooting from a big that Portland could use matched up against the Lakers. Frustrated Blazers fans can now add Collins to the list of Trevor Ariza and Rodney Hood of Portland role players not in the restart who would be very helpful in this series. On the bright side, at least Portland is not going to be missing Damian Lillard.
No Collins means more of rookie forward Wenyen Gabriel, who has been up and down (as one expects a rookie to be) but has been a better fit next to Jusuf Nurkic than Hassan Whiteside.
Portland and the Lakers are knotted up in their first-round series at 1-1, with Game 3 at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.