Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. may return in playoffs, ‘getting closer’ after back surgery

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Michael Porter Jr. is apparently still hopeful he can return to the court for the Denver Nuggets this postseason.

Porter, who underwent lumbar spine surgery on Dec. 1, said on Saturday night after the Nuggets’ 123-101 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series that he feels close to perfect.

“Right now I’m taking it game by game,” Porter said, via ESPN. “I’m not ruling anything out.

“This is a thing I don’t ever want to deal with again, so I’m just taking my time … I’m playing it game by game. Every morning I wake up and I know I’m feeling good. Every day I’m getting closer.”

MPJ: ‘I can do anything’

Porter has been dealing with back injuries for seemingly his entire basketball career, even dating back to his time at Missouri, where he played in just three games. He missed his entire first season in the league with back issues, and has appeared in just nine games this season.

Porter aggravated his back again in November after a botched layup, and then underwent surgery in December. He hasn’t played since, and it marked his third back surgery in about five years.

He was scheduled to return in March, but his rehab didn’t go as planned.

Porter — who signed a five-year, $172.6 million extension with the team in September — could significantly help the Nuggets get past the Warriors in their series if he’s healthy. Based on how Game 1 went, his presence would surely be a welcome one.

Because of his injury history, though, Porter isn’t going to push anything unless he’s absolutely sure.

"I was feeling pretty good. Feeling ready to go. I was ready to step back up. Just got a tiny bit sore, so I realize about a month ago that I was good, but I was pushing myself too hard to get back," he said, via ESPN. "I can do anything. I have no restrictions. But when I got back to playing full speed and doing everything, that's when I just got a little sore. So, I just decided that if I feel perfect, I'm going to come back. If not, I'm going to take my time."

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. isn't ruling out a return this season. (Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today)
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