Trying to stave off elimination, the Portland Trail Blazers (2-3) will be fighting for their postseason lives as they host the Denver Nuggets (3-2) on Thursday. This game will take place at the Moda Center, with tipoff scheduled for 8:00 pm ET.
These two matched up in an instant classic in Game 5 as the Nuggets ultimately prevailed 147-140 in double overtime. In the win, Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 38 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Michael Porter Jr. added 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Monte Morris added 28 points.
Damian Lillard put on quite the show in the loss. He had 55 points in 52 minutes. He also added ten assists and six rebounds. Robert Covington (19 points, 11 rebounds) and CJ McCollum (18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) also performed well.
With their backs against the wall, the Trail Blazers are the favorites playing at home. They are -210 to win while the Nuggets’ moneyline is +176. The spread features Denver +5 (-110), and the over/under for total points is 227.5 (-110).
By The Numbers
Offensively, these have been two of the best scoring teams all season. The Trail Blazers rank fourth in the NBA, averaging 116.4 points per game. The Nuggets rank seventh averaging 115.4.
Defensively, it is all Denver. They rank 10th in scoring defense allowing opponents 110.8 points per game. The Trail Blazers fall to 23rd, allowing 114.7 points per game.
Denver Wants To End Series Now
Anything can happen in a Game 7. It is for that reason, Denver wants to finish this series on Thursday.
Granted, they would feel confident in a Game 7 at home, where they are 25-11 on the season, but the Nuggets would still prefer the extra rest before taking on the winner of the Suns and Lakers in the next round.
To get it done Thursday, Denver will once again turn to Nikola Jokic. The “Joker” has played sensationally in this series. In five games, he is averaging 32.4 points, 11 rebounds, and 4.2 assists.
One of the strengths of Denver is their depth. Even with Jamal Murray out for the postseason, the Nuggets boast a lineup that has five players averaging double digits.
Aside from Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. (17.4 points, seven rebounds), Monte Morris (14 points, 5.2 assists), Austin Rivers (12.4 points, 2.8 assists), and Aaron Gordon (12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds) have all played well.
Portland Hopes To Force Game 7
If they can just get to a Game 7, the Trail Blazers have to feel confident. They actually played better on the road (22-14) than they did at home (20-16) this season, and they have one of the best scorers in the league in Damian Lillard.
Speaking of Lillard, he has been dominant, averaging 35.6 points per game. Not only has he been the primary scorer, but he has also gotten others involved as he is averaging 9.6 assists as well as 4.4 rebounds per game.
While Lillard has been spectacular, the Trail Blazers would love to see even another gear out of CJ McCollum. He has not been bad as he is averaging 20.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists, but another level to his game would make Portland very tough to beat.
Other contributors in this series include Norman Powell (17 points), Jusuf Nurkic (13.2 points, 11 rebounds), and Carmelo Anthony (12 points).
Taking Denver And The Points
This one seems like an easy call. While the Trail Blazers will certainly be playing with a sense of urgency and Damian Lillard can single-handedly take over a game, it is still the Nuggets that have played with more consistency this series. For that reason, take Denver and the five points.