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NBA Playoffs: Trail Blazers at Nuggets Game 2 Preview

After a close but contentious Game One, Portland looks to snag a game on the road and even the series.

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NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets (Denver leads series 1-0)

May 1, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Jusuf Nurkic (out)
Nuggets injuries: Michael Porter Jr. (out)
How to watch on TV: TNT
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Denver Stiffs

The Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets played each other extremely tight all season long, and most of Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals was exactly that. However, turnovers and poor defense set the tone, sinking the Blazers 121-113 on Monday night. Damian Lillard had 39 points, and Enes Kanter gutted out 26 points in the effort.

Adjustments for Game Two

  • Getting Dame and Enes help. While Lillard and Kanter came to play in Denver, the other three members of the starting lineup did not. Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu cooled off from their first round start, combining for four points and six turnovers while their normally reliable defense was exploited mercilessly by Paul Millsap. CJ McCollum had a strong first half, but scored just 6 points in the second half and missed late free throws that sealed the game. Portland needs the supporting cast, especially Aminu and McCollum, to step up.
  • Defense wins championships. Or at least it does not lose them. Defense was essentially absent for the entire game for both squads, with both teams shooting over 50%. The difference ended up being turnovers. While the defense was not strong, the Blazers committed a series of sloppy turnovers at the end of the second quarter that proved costly. Overall, the Blazers committed eighteen turnovers on bad passes and ill-advised drives.
  • One stepped up, one stepped back. Seth Curry and Rodney Hood had a rough first round against Oklahoma City. In Game One of this series, however, Hood came to play, scoring 17 off the bench and giving the second unit a badly needed scoring push. On the other hand, Curry continued to slide, scoring just four points and missing late free throws. In addition, Curry was attacked on defense by Monte Morris and Malik Beasley. The Blazers have an excellent record when Curry gets into the scoring mix. Getting him engaged will be a key for Game Two.

What they’re saying

Mike Singer of the Denver Post talks about how Denver center Nikola Jokic has become a beacon for the city of Denver:

“I think it’s just this year he’s gotten so comfortable and so confident, and I think we’re seeing the natural, the true, the real Nikola Jokic,” Malone said. “That’s come with him getting more comfortable living here, getting more comfortable with the language and knowing that he is our franchise player with the contract that we gave him last summer.”

Sean Keeler of the Denver Post extolled the virtues of Gary Harris and his defensive assignment against Damian Lillard:

Just being physical, letting them feel us,” Harris said of the hosts’ second-half intensity. “Getting into the ball. Our bigs talking out, being able to screen. Just staying locked in, mentally and physically.”