The Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets are set to cross paths in the NBA Playoffs for the second time in three postseasons. In the lead up to full slate of first-round games, The Athletic’s Josh Robbins and Sam Amick received anonymous predictions from a coach, scout and team executive.
For the Blazers-Nuggets series, the anonymous scout highlighted the offensive firepower that both squads feature.
“Those two Portland guards (Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum) are going to be an issue for anybody, and probably particularly for Denver. Denver doesn’t really have a shot blocker. But I just think Denver’s so offensively potent. That’s going to be a lot of scoring, right? Those teams are two of the best scoring teams in the league. I think it’s going to be this: Who’s going to score last?
The anonymous coach focused on the defensive side of the ball and pointed to the tough assignment that Nikola Jokic must undertake against the Blazers.
“I think Portland has pretty good collective experience together. I think they’re hitting their stride at the right time. They’ve won 10 out of 12, and I think Denver is going to really, really struggle to guard Dame (Lillard). I love Joker, and I think he’s one of the top MVP candidates. But I think he’s going to get exposed in pick-and-roll coverage, and I think it’s a terrible matchup for Denver. If (Portland’s Jusuf) Nurkic can stay out of foul trouble, I think they’re going to have a really good chance to be able to win the series.”
Finally, the anonymous executive combined the observations that were made by the other two sources.
“I just think the Blazers’ firepower at the two guard spots, and the continuity around those guys and knowing who they are, is going to trump that — barely. I’ll take the Blazers in seven. They obviously have confidence against this Nuggets team as well, winning in seven a couple years back. I think it’s going to be a dogfight, but I’ll go (with the) Blazers in seven.”
Of the three sources, only the scout picked the Nuggets to advance past the Blazers. In the regular season, the Nuggets were victorious in two of their meetings with the Blazers.
You can read the full preview of the first round at The Athletic (subscription required).