Getting back onto the court was the hard part for Rudy Fernandez. Despite feeling relatively pain free a few weeks after undergoing a microdiscectomy in the first week of December, Fernandez had to bide his time, let the healing process proceed.
Now that he has been cleared to play, doing just that in Portland’s last three games, Rudy begins the second phase of his return: getting back to where he was.
“I think the back is good, you know?” said Fernandez after going through practice on Tuesday in Philadelphia. “I’m happy about that. Right now I think I need to work more on fitness. Step-by-step. Every day for me is a goal to play, be ready for when I play.”
Fernandez is averaging 4.7 points, well below his 8.1 season average, in 15.3 minutes in his first three games back. But maybe more of concern are his shooting percentages. Fernandez is shooting just 25 percent from the field and 15 percent from three since returning to the lineup against Milwaukee on January 13, percentages that are 15 and 20 points, respectively, off his season averages.
Of course, none of this is unexpected, to Fernandez or his coaches. It usually takes any player at least a few games to get back into the swing of things, and when it comes to a guy like Fernandez, a player who depends on flow and rhythm, the importance of getting a few games under his belt can’t be overstated.
“Maybe two months no play, no compete in the offense and defense, I feel like maybe I won’t be ready,” said Fernandez. “Every day for me is a goal. I think the last game I no feel like the first two games, but I keep working. I want to stay 100 percent on the court the next game.”