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Gordon is Key to Holding Blazers’ Three-Point Shooting in Check

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NBA.com contributor Michael C. Wright focused on the Nuggets’ suspect three-point defense prior to Saturday’s Game 1.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s Game 1 between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets should feature a plethora of offense. When it comes to three-point shooting, Portland’s cast of sharp-shooting guards should create a noteworthy problem for Denver’s defense.

In the lead up to the weekend, NBA.com’s Michael C. Wright detailed how the Nuggets’ penchant for allowing good looks from beyond the arc could become an issue against the Blazers. Wright also explained that forward Aaron Gordon has the potential to remedy the situation in a series against Damian Lillard.

Portland ranks No. 2 in the league in 3-point attempts at 40.8 per game, and the scary part is the Blazers knock them down, ranking sixth in 3-point percentage (38.5%). Denver allowed an average of 35.7 3-pointers per game during the regular season, which ranks as 22nd in the league with opponents connecting on just 36.3% of those attempts. Gordon should help tremendously in this area, as his athleticism and versatility should somewhat limit Lillard and McCollum’s ability to stretch Denver’s defense. Lillard has drained better than 44% from range in three of his last five games against the Nuggets and drilled better than 54% in two of those outings.

Regardless of that potential advantage for the Blazers, Wright ended up siding with the Nuggets near the end of his series preview. Wright cited Denver’s supporting cast in his final analysis.

No doubt, Portland’s defense toward the end of the regular season was much better than its final regular-season rankings indicate. But that area remains an issue for the Blazers, which faces a high-powered Denver squad that finished the season No. 6 in offensive rating (116.3). You can expect plenty of high-scoring nights in this series, as Portland is No. 2 in offensive rating (117.1). But this series will ultimately come down to how the respective supporting casts complement Lillard and Jokic — as well as the teams’ bench units. Denver appears to own the advantage in both categories. Nuggets in 7.

The Blazers and Nuggets are set to compete in Game 1 on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. PT on Saturday.

You can read Wright’s full series preview by clicking here.