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NBA Playoffs: Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Game 6 Preview

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After a defeat in Denver, how will the Blazers respond?

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Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets - Game Five

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets (Denver leads 3-2)

May 9, 2019 - 7:30 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Jusuf Nurkic (out)
Nuggets injuries: Michael Porter Jr. (out)
How to watch on TV: ESPN
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV,
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Denver Stiffs

The Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Denver Nuggets in Game Five 124-98, bringing the series to 3-2 in Denver’s favor. Damian Lillard only managed 22 points in his 32 minutes, alongside four assists. CJ McCollum faced his own struggles with 12 points and three assists. Meanwhile, Zach Collins and Rodney Hood each provided 14 points off the bench. Meyers Leonard made an appearance with nine points as well. After Denver built a large lead going into the half, it took the wind out of Portland’s sails, and they never recovered.

The Denver Nuggets attacked the Blazers on offense to come away with the victory. Riding impressive performances from Nikola Jokic (25 points, 19 rebounds), Paul Millsap (24 points, eight rebounds) and Jamal Murray (18 points, nine assists), Denver dominated. Overall, the Nuggets had efficiency on their side, shooting 48.9 percent from the field compared to the Blazers’ 36.7 percent.

Adjustments for Game Six

  • Gotta make your free throws. Damian Lillard has struggled to sink his free throws in recent games. Against Denver in Game Four, he went 2-5 at the line. In Game Five, he went 8-11. As a team, they went 16-30 from the line while Denver went 28-31. Portland needs those easy buckets from the line if they want to help their winning case.
  • Energy and momentum. Facing the Nuggets in Game Five, the Blazers looked flat. Disengaged. Disinterested. They struggled to get anything going on offense, and they faced similar difficulties on defense, especially in transition. The Nuggets took advantage of the evident fatigue of the Blazers’ starters to build a lead that the bench could not recover from. This cannot happen in Game Six.
  • Defense leads to offense. Portland needs to ensure they are getting back on defense when Denver pushes the pace and takes advantage of the fast break. Their recovery time has to be as quick as possible to shut down Denver’s offense.

What they’re saying

Joe Rubino of the Denver Post talks about what the playoffs have meant for Denver:

Denver’s arena-sharing pro hockey and basketball franchises have never made it to the second round of their respective league playoffs in the same season before 2019. The final results of the teams’ postseason runs aren’t yet known (thanks to a Gabe Landeskog’s overtime goal Monday night) but one thing is for certain: bars and restaurants in close proximity to Pepsi Center have been packing in the patrons on game nights.

So far, this playoff season has netted 23 extra games for the two franchises, 12 of which have been played in Denver. Last week, the Pepsi Center hosted games on four consecutive nights. This week Monday and Tuesday both brought action to the Can.

TJ McBride of Mile High Sports addresses whether or not their current president of basketball operations is leaving for Washington:

Yes, there are multiple obstacles in the way of both the Wizards and Connelly as things currently stand. The Nuggets are currently in the drivers seat of the second round of the playoffs and hold a 3-2 series lead over the Portland Trail Blazers. For Washington, they will have to spend quite a bit of money on Connelly to convince him to leave such a strong and stable organization like the Nuggets and, as Aldridge reported, do so without interviewing him.

Joel Rush of Forbes gets into how Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray work so well together:

The chemistry Jokic and Murray have developed did not seem to come as naturally as, say, that between Jokic and Harris last season, where the timing on cuts and dribble handoffs seemed to emerge almost organically from the flow of the offense. They had to work on establishing their own rhythm, but when the need arose they progressed remarkably quickly in building an arsenal of different looks to throw at opposing defenses, and from then on they have never looked back.

“Everyone in the NBA has linked Washington to Connelly, who built the Nuggets into a contender in the Western Conference in five short years, who’s from Baltimore and, per numerous sources, would be delighted to come back to the DMV and run the Wizards, the team with which he began his NBA career as an assistant video coordinator in 1999,” Aldridge wrote in his piece for The Athletic. “But he’s not going to interview for the job, and he’s not going to come cheap. Both of these are reasonable positions on his part, by the way.”