Portland Trail Blazers (32-25) vs. Denver Nuggets (37-20)
The Portland Trail Blazers play the Denver Nuggets at home on the second night of a back to back coming off of a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Blazers are looking to get back on track after losing six of their last eight games, including their last two. The Nuggets are looking to continue their hot streak, having won their last three games and eleven out of their last thirteen games.
Wednesday, April 21 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out)
Nuggets injuries: Jamal Murray (out), Monte Morris (out), Austin Rivers (probable)
SBN Affiliate: Denver Stiffs
What To Watch For
- Fatigue. The Blazers are coming off of a hard fought game against the Clippers just last night, and a game in which CJ McCollum and Norman Powell played 36 and 39 minutes respectively. The fact that two of the most important offensive players are playing their second game in a 24 hour period could bode poorly for the Blazers. The Nuggets had a day off yesterday, and as such, are more likely to be well rested and ready for this game.
- Carmelo Anthony. While looking at Carmelo’s scoring on paper, 42 points over the last two games seems to jump off the page, he has taken 37 shots to get to that total and made just 13 of them, or 35% from the field. He has seemed to force shots since Lillard has been out of the lineup, and his choosing to do so has caused issues for the Blazers offense. If Carmelo can get back in his groove, or choose to start taking less low percentage deep two pointers, the Blazers have a much better shot at taking this win home.
- Nikola Jokic. Jokic has been on a tear this season, averaging 26.4 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 8.8 assists so far. In his most recent game against Memphis, he scored 47 points and added on 15 rebounds and 8 assists in a double overtime win. He has been playing at an MVP level while leading the Denver Nuggets to a fourth place record in the competitive Western Conference. The Blazers are going to have to throw everything they have at Jokic to try and slow him down, and even that might not be enough, especially on the second of a back to back.
What Others Are Saying
Tommy Knowlton of Denver Stiffs talks about Michael Porter Jr.’s rise over the last few seasons.
MPJ is coming into his own because he is playing his brand of basketball within Denver’s scheme. He is not trying to be Kevin Durant. He is understanding his strengths and utilizing them to the best of his ability. He seems very comfortable with his looks, and when he plays like that, he can be the best scorer on this team.
Porter might not be known for being an energetic spark plug, but there have been several occasions this season where Denver seems very lethargic, and MPJ saves them with a great chase-down block or multiple offensive rebounds.
James L Jackson of FiveThirtyEight talked about Aaron Gordon possibly being the piece needed for the Nuggets to succeed.
Since being drafted fourth overall by Orlando in 2014, Gordon has proven to be one of the NBA’s most versatile defenders, ranking ninth among 101 qualified players in field-goal percentage allowed on jumpers (35.6), according to Second Spectrum. That mark places him ahead of Kawhi Leonard (12th), Paul George (14th), Giannis Antetokounmpo (21st) and Jimmy Butler (26th) over that span, during which that quartet combined for three Defensive Player of the Year awards and 13 All-Defensive selections. Though Gordon’s career hasn’t been as decorated, he is readily confident in the value he brings to Denver.
This season, opponents are shooting 49.3 percent from the paint when guarded by Gordon, who ranks 18th among 293 qualified defenders.
“I pride myself on defense,” Gordon said after his second game with Denver. “If I can help this team by defending some of the best players in the league, I’m more than happy to.”