The Trail Blazers and Nuggets are set to participate on in a Game 7 on the biggest stage possible for a non-Finals appearance. The Warriors advancement to the Western Conference Finals on Friday set the stage for both Portland and Denver to fill ABC’s broadcast spot on Sunday.
Bereft of traditional NBA superstars like James Harden and the majority of the Warriors’ cast of contributors, Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic will get their chance to capture the attention of a large audience. Martin Rogers of USA TODAY recently explained that the charm of the Blazers-Nuggets series is tied the gap in styles displayed by each team’s leading player.
The driving forces of each squad are markedly different. Lillard is small and lithe, cutting and darting and shifting direction. Jokic lets the ball do the brisk movement and is not afraid to put his body on the line. They are both top 10 NBA players, but get less acclaim than many players outside that elite group.
Rogers goes on to explain that both franchises have built identities that run counter to NBA’s trend of building super teams.
Those who love this league are most comfortable with familiarity — typical stories and recognizable stars. In league history there have been 23 repeat champions. Denver and Portland don’t fit a neat narrative. They are the teams that are more than the sum of their parts, organizations that have found ways to win when they are not supposed to. They do things we don’t see, valuing traits like togetherness and raw effort.
You can read Rogers’ full story at USA TODAY.