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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets Preview

The Blazers look to have a perfect home stand as they face the Nuggets.

Philadelphia 76ers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (9-8) vs Denver Nuggets (9-8)

The Portland Trail Blazers are on a nice little run of late, with three in a row overall and eight in a row at home. On Saturday, the Blazers took out the 76ers by a score of 118-111. Portland hits the road on Wednesday, so finishing the home stand with another win is imperative. Fortunately for Portland, the injury-decimated Nuggets are in town.

The Denver Nuggets are reeling from the news that Michael Porter Jr. will miss significant time due to a nerve issue with his back. Stack this on top of Nikola Jokic’s wrist injury and Jamal Murray’s continued absence and Nuggets fans are wondering what they have done to deserve all of this bad luck. As of this writing it isn’t known if Jokic will play, so perhaps the biggest key to the game will have to wait until the definitive lineup comes out. The Nuggets lost both games Jokic has missed recently including a 126-97 shellacking by the Phoenix Suns on Sunday and are on a four game losing streak overall.

Tuesday, November 23 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: TNT, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: None
Nuggets injuries: Nikola Jokic (questionable), Michael Porter Jr. (out), Zeke Nnaji (out), Bones Hyland (out), Jamal Murray (out)
SBN Affiliate: Denver Stiffs

What To Watch For

  • Will Nikola Jokic play? The Blazers are already facing Denver without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Will they duck Jokic as well? Jokic injured his wrist on Thursday against the 76ers and is questionable as of Monday night. Wrist injuries can be difficult for basketball players to recover from and play through, so whether he plays or not the injury figures to be a factor in the game. Yet again, Portland has a chance to take advantage of another team’s bad luck and pick up a win.
  • Efficiency. eFG% adjusts field goal percentage taking into account that three pointers are more valuable than shots inside the three point line. The Blazers are 6th in the NBA with an eFG% of 53.7, while the Nuggets are 16th at 51.9%. That difference can win you the game, but Denver’s real problem is that over the last four games their eFG% has dropped to 48.4%, while the Blazers have improved to 56.9%. That’s type of difference would be really tough to overcome.
  • Damian Lillard. We’ve been waiting for it all season. Saturday we got it. Mostly. Lillard’s 39 points made the headlines, but going 14-14 from the foul line may have been the most significant stat. Was he doing a better job of attacking the rim and adjusting to how the game is called this season? Or was Saturday’s refereeing the outlier? If we’ve learned anything this season, it’s that Portland needs an effective Damian Lillard if they want to be a great team. Another 35-plus game would go a long way to raising confidence in what this team might be capable of.

What Others Are Saying

Ryan Blackburn of Denver Stiffs looks at the list of Denver injuries and wonders if the team is cursed.

A great player doesn’t make a great team though, and the Nuggets have struggled to find consistency over the last several years while surrounding Jokić with as much talent as they possibly can. It took Murray awhile to find his consistency. Paul Millsap was signed to help Denver reach the pinnacle but ultimately aged out before they were ready. Barton has struggled with injuries and consistency throughout his career. Porter is the opposite of Millsap and hasn’t been quite old enough (or close enough in his prime) to fill the role the Nuggets envision for him in a playoff environment. The Nuggets had to trade Gary Harris, initially their first building block of the rebuild, in order to find the player they believed to be their missing piece in Gordon.

Sean Carroll of Nugglove is enthusiastic about former Oregon Duck, Bol Bol.

Is this the start of a breakout for Bol Bol? Honestly, yes. If not for the on-court play and excitement on offense, it’s the start of something for Bol Bol as it shows that Michael Malone trusts him to be out there, inserting him in the first quarter.

Aaron Gordon has been in Denver for less than a year, but he’s already making a positive difference in the community according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

When Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon walked into The Denver Rescue Mission late Wednesday afternoon, where tables of mashed potatoes, corn, peanut butter and turkeys were stacked neatly in rows, he had one question: Was it enough?

As Gordon approached officials from The Rescue Mission and Food Bank of the Rockies, he told them that if his donation – enough food for more than 1,600 meals wasn’t enough – he’d provide more. All they needed to do was tell him.