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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 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

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 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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The Denver Nuggets have almost wrapped up their preseason. Three games in the books with one to go and things have gone about as well as they could have hoped. Jerami Grant looks awesome, Michael Porter Jr is living up to the hype in the early stages and most importantly no one has suffered any major On top of all that Denver has yet to lose a game. Sure, preseason games don’t count but if you’re gonna play them you might as well win them. Tonight the Nuggets will try to run the exhibition table and pick up a win against the Portland Trail Blazers in their one home game of the preseason.

The Nuggets will end the regular season in Portland Sunday in a game that may have significant implications for playoff positioning for both teams. Portland (41-30) has surged in recent weeks, going 8-2 in its last 10 games. The Trail Blazers have once again been fueled by elite offense, ranking Nurkić has also stepped up his production as of late as Portland looks to solidify its playoff positioning, averaging 13.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game over his last 10 games. In two games against Portland this season , Jokić has become a deadly scorer, averaging 33 points per game.

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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The Nuggets have already beaten Portland twice. And they’ve been good defensively in doing so. Overall, they are playing some of their most effective basketball in keeping themselves alive in the playoff race with a season -high five straight victories. Start with these things… Keep the defense solid: This is not a comment on the season as a whole, but in the three games against the Trail Blazers this season . In those games, in which the Nuggets have won two, they have held Portland 11 points under its season average, three 3-point makes under its season average, and just over one

When it comes to defending Portland ’s offense, focusing on the 3-point line is a key ingredient for success. 43 percent of the Trail Blazers ’ shot attempts this season have come from beyond the arc, which is the second-highest frequency in the league and well over the league average of 36.2 percent. As mentioned earlier, Portland has struggled mightily on the defensive end this season . Several factors have gone into those struggles, but a key area the Nuggets can look to exploit is around the rim. Although Denver ranks just 22nd in the frequency of shot attempts coming around the

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.

Entire Blazers home crowd sings Happy Birthday for Carmelo Anthony (Video) .
Portland Trail Blazers fans inside the Moda Center sang "Happy Birthday" to Carmelo Anthony during Game 4 against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. Saturday was a special day for Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony. Not only was i Game 4 of Portland's first-round series agSaturday was a special day for Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony. Not only was i Game 4 of Portland's first-round series against the Denver Nuggets, but it was also Anthony's 37th birthday.

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