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Blazers’ Poor Interior Game Proved Critical in Game 5 Loss vs. Nuggets

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Haley O’Shaughnessy of The Ringer labels Portland’s interior play as a “loser” of the night.

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers struggled on both sides of the court in Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets when it came to the interior. Drives on offense proved to be less fruitful than usual, but Portland’s defense also struggled to put pressure on Denver’s own drives. Haley O’Shaughnessy of The Ringer detailed how Portland’s interior play doomed them:

Portland was weak in its own right, both on the attack inside and in defending its interior on the other end. The Blazers were severely outrebounded from beginning to end, and they lost the battle on the boards by a 62-44 margin (52-31 on defensive glass). The backcourt drives that are typically successful for Portland also fell flat, but the team’s overall lack of productivity in the paint can’t be blamed on an off scoring night or an unfriendly rim.

Stotts put Al-Farouq Aminu on Jokic, Denver’s best offensive player, which made it easier for the Serbian to pounce on the glass. That move also gave Jokic—Denver’s worst defender—a simpler assignment on the other end of the floor, as Aminu is a non-threat. Jokic largely didn’t even need to bother to contest him throughout Tuesday night’s game.

You can read more from O’Shaughnessy here.

Game 6 is Thursday in Portland.