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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets Preview

The Blazers look to bounce back on the road.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (18-12) vs. Denver Nuggets (16-14)

The Portland Trail Blazers head to Denver to take on the Nuggets after a tough loss in Phoenix in their first of three games on the road. With starters Zach Collins, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic still injured and unable to play, the Trail Blazers have beat the odds and everyone’s expectations as they’ve maintained a winning schedule. This road trip won't be an easy one, and the Nuggets will be a solid opponent for Portland.

Tuesday, February 23- 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: TNT or see games all season on fuboTV, follow on ESPN+, or the ESPN/Disney Bundle*
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), CJ McCollum (out), Harry Giles (out) Nuggets injuries: Greg Whittington (out), Paul Millsap (out), JaMychal Green (out), Gary Harris (out), PJ Dozier (out)
SBN Affiliate: Denver Stiffs

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What To Watch For

  • Denver’s key players. Nikolai Jokic is one of the best players in the league as it stands. He’s come up in MVP talks, and rightfully so. Jamal Murray has also been playing really well, especially in his last several games. If their key players heat up, they could be a major problem for Portland.
  • Portland’s Defense. It’s no secret that Portland has struggled defensively this season. While we have seen flashes of good defense that we know they’re capable of, the Blazers just haven't quite pulled that together. Denver struggles with defense as well, and on paper they’re good offensively but they have struggled through a large part of the season. Portland should be able to defend them, and Trail Blazers fans sure would love to see that.
  • Robert Covington. Trail Blazers fans had high hopes for RoCo when Portland aquired him for this season, but those hopes quickly fell short when he seemed to struggle through the beginning of the season. But Covington has quickly gotten immensely better and his shooting averages have gone up substantially. He’s gotten more and more fun to watch, and has become a crucial part of the team.

What Others Are Saying

Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray talked to the Associated Press about his confidence in making the playoffs.

“It’s a long season. I don’t know how many times you have to explain it,” Murray said. “You guys ask about if we lose games ... it’s the end of the world. It’s just basketball. Some days you lose. Some days you win. We know we can beat the teams we’re supposed to beat. We know we’ll be in the playoffs and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We’re going to give it our best shot.”

The Blazers have managed to keep themselves in the race towards the NBA Championship even with much of their starting lineup unable to play due to injury. But this road trip is going to be a difficult one. Brad Botkin of CBS sums it up:

Portland isn’t out of the woods yet. McCollum will be reevaluated in a week, and Nurkic is likely a few weeks himself from returning at least. Their next three games are against the Suns, Nuggets and Lakers. A five-game losing streak is always around the corner in the West. But the plan for McCollum and Nurkic to return to a team in the thick of the playoff race, rather than one who dug itself a massive hole in their absence, is well on track.