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Sport Preview: Denver Nuggets look to wrap up season against Portland Trail Blazers

09:40  16 may  2021
09:40  16 may  2021 Source:   sbnation.com

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The Denver Nuggets (47-24) wrapped up a top-four seed just under a week ago, and they’re one of a few teams that have yet to solidify their seeding on the final day of the regular season . One of the other teams is the Portland Trail Blazers (41-30) who are currently in sixth place due to a tie-breaker win over the Los Angeles Lakers . Depending on the results of this game, a lot of moving could occur. Denver is 7-3 in their last 10 games, and they are currently the third seed in the Western Conference by way of a head-to-head tie-breaker over the LA Clippers.

The Denver Nuggets (48-26), after coming up short in Game 1, put on an impressive performance in Game 2 for a big win over the Portland Trail Blazers (43-301). Despite a 42-point outburst from star point guard Damian Lillard, Portland was unable to keep up in a 21-point loss. In Game 2, he was called for six and fouled out while Carmelo Anthony was called for five. If Jokic is getting physical early and puts Nurkic into foul trouble, that complicates Portland ’s defense in a big way. Game 2 also got rather chippy, and Nurkic could be looking to send a message early which could get him in trouble.

The Denver Nuggets (47-24) wrapped up a top-four seed just under a week ago, and they’re one of a few teams that have yet to solidify their seeding on the final day of the regular season. One of the other teams is the Portland Trail Blazers (41-30) who are currently in sixth place due to a tie-breaker win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Depending on the results of this game, a lot of moving could occur.

JaVale McGee holding a basketball © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Denver is 7-3 in their last 10 games, and they are currently the third seed in the Western Conference by way of a head-to-head tie-breaker over the LA Clippers. If the Nuggets win this game, they would secure the third seed regardless of what the Clippers do in their final game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, with the way the matchups would work out, it may be in their best interest to lose this game.

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Denver (8-4) is looking to wrap up a perfect homestand Sunday night when the Portland Trail Blazers venture into town. The Nuggets pulled out a fourth-consecutive victory Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks, a game that saw Nikola Jokić drop 22 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists while Aaron Gordon chipped in with The Trail Blazers are 1-5 away from home and own the 21st-ranked defense heading into Saturday’s slate of games. Damian Lillard (lower abdominal tendinopathy) has been ruled OUT for Sunday's matchup. Denver won the regular- season series (2-1) between the two teams last

The Denver Nuggets will wrap up their preseason tonight with the second straight contest against the Portland Trail Blazers . The first matchup went in Denver ’s favor big time as they opened up a double digit lead in the first quarter and never looked back on their way to a 126-95 win. Now both teams will simply try to survive this final contest without sustaining an injury. That could mean some interesting lineups, particularly in the second half of this game. Typically, the last game of preseason is used as a dress rehearsal for the regular season but the Nuggets more or less played their regular lineup for

For Portland, if they win, they guarantee themselves the sixth seed. If they lose, they need the Lakers to lose to the New Orleans Pelicans to avoid falling into the play-in tournament. They’ll be playing their entire lineup while we could see Denver resting a key player or two heading into the playoffs.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (46-24, 22-13 away) vs Portland Trail Blazers (41-30, 19-16 home)

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Moda Center

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Portland. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Rival Blog: Blazer’s Edge

Expected Starting Lineups:

POR: PG Damian Lillard, SG C.J. McCollum, SF Norman Powell, PF Robert Covington, C Jusuf Nurkic

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Trail blazers talk nuggets . Damian Lillard on matching up with the Denver Nuggets "Obviously they've been one of the best teams in the league all season long, play really well at home. They coming off a great series, a tough, seven-game series with San Antonio where they got they feet wet, got a lot of their first experience in the • Denver won the season series against Portland in 2018-19, 3-1. All four games were decided by single digits. • In four games against the Nuggets , Damian Lillard averaged 21.3 points (37.1% FG, 28.6% 3-PT, 95.8% FT), 3.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists.

The Trail Blazers have struggled mightily on the defensive end this season . Ranking 27th in defensive rating according to Cleaning the Glass, Portland ranks near the bottom of the league in two key defensive areas: generating turnovers and finishing possessions with a defensive rebound. Once again, the Nuggets find themselves in a matchup against a team that prefers to operate in the mid-range. Portland ranks 11th in the league in the frequency of shot attempts coming from the mid-range and an impressive fifth in field-goal percentage from that area of the floor (43.2 percent).

DEN: PG Facundo Campazzo, SG Austin Rivers, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: Will Barton, PJ Dozier, Monte Morris, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon

Three Things to Watch

Who Plays for Denver?

Nikola Jokic has yet to miss a game this season. The MVP is one of just a few players to be able to stake that claim. Is he going to play the final game, or is Michael Malone going to force him to rest? If Jokic plays, who will actually suit up alongside him? Denver’s matchup if they lose is the Dallas Mavericks. If they win, there’s a chance they have a first-round series against the Lakers. It makes a lot of sense for players like Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and anyone with a nagging injury to take the night off.

Guarding the Guards

Regardless of who suits up for Denver, guarding the backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is going to be a task and a half. The two stars average over 50 points per game while putting up nearly 20 3-point attempts per game. If the guards are hitting their shots, Portland could put up a bundle of points in a hurry.

Use This To Get Better

In games that turn into blowout wins or losses, teams don’t always use their opportunities to get better. Reserve players play track-meet basketball and chuck up bad shots until the clock runs out. If this game does become a blowout, it should be used to develop players that are in a cold spell, or it can be used to experiment with sets you’ve been trying to implement. The bottom line is the game can’t just be wasted if it’s a blowout.

2021 NBA Playoffs: Nuggets vs. Blazers odds, line, picks, Game 4 predictions from model on 99-66 roll .
SportsLine's projection model simulated Blazers vs. Nuggets 10,000 timesDamian Lillard and the Blazers are making a run toward the West's fifth seed.

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