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NBA Playoffs: Trail Blazers at Nuggets Game 7 Preview

Everything is on the line as the Blazers fight for a spot in the Western Conference Finals

NBA: Playoffs-Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets (Series tied 3-3)

May 12, 2019 - 12:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Jusuf Nurkic (out)
Nuggets injuries: Michael Porter Jr. (out)
How to watch on TV: ABC
How to stream: WatchESPN, YouTube TV (or other services that carry local ABC streaming)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Denver Stiffs

It all comes down to this. For the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets, one team will face the defending champions in the Western Conference Finals. The other team will return home and face the music.

The Blazers got to this point with a gutty 119-108 win at home in Game Six. Damian Lillard (32 points), CJ McCollum (30 points), and Rodney Hood (career playoff-high 25 points) led the way to even the series. Zach Collins registered five blocks, becoming the first Blazer to do that in a playoff game since LaMarcus Aldridge in 2010. The Nuggets got 29 points from Nikola Jokic and 24 points from Jamal Murray, but could not stop the Blazers in the second half.

Adjustments for Game Seven

  • Use the hot hand. Head coach Terry Stotts has been reluctant to make any changes to the starting lineup throughout these playoffs. However, with everything on the line, something may need to be done. Moe Harkless has struggled on both ends of the floor all series, while Rodney Hood has been impressive, especially in defensive rotations. Swapping the two and letting Harkless work with Evan Turner on the second unit could be beneficial.
  • Keep the energy high. The Nuggets are sticking with an eight-man rotation. Murray played 46 of 48 minutes in Game Six. Jokic, Paul Millsap and Gary Harris all played 37 or more minutes. Conversely, only two players played more than 36 minutes for the Blazers: Lillard and McCollum. Taking advantage of the fatigue on the Nuggets will give Portland the edge they need.
  • Keep the pressure on. Now is not the time to look forward at all. If the Blazers get a ten-point lead, it needs to be twenty. Twenty needs to be thirty. Both teams are going to leave it all on the floor and throw every haymaker left in their bag. Taking control early and putting the game out of reach needs to be everything.

What they’re saying

Adams Mares, Ryan Blackburn, and Gordon Gross of Denver Stiffs had a roundtable to discuss what needs to change for the Nuggets:

The bench woes are not behind the Denver Nuggets. After game 5, you kind of hoped that the Nuggets had some sort of answer for those early 2nd quarter barrages that the Portland bench has put on the them but after that Blazers 11-2 run last night, it’s clear that the Nuggets are still in trouble whenever Nikola Jokic goes to the bench.