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Blazers’ Full-Strength Lineup Crucial for Upset Potential

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ESPN NBA Analyst Kevin Pelton explained that the Trail Blazers’ healthy starting lineup could give Portland the edge over Denver.

San Antonio Spurs v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers’ starting lineup hit its stride just as the postseason arrived. The Blazers closed out the regular season with a 10-2 record in their final 12 outings after CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and newcomer Norman Powell gelled in the starting rotation. Now facing the No. 3 seeded Nuggets, Portland’s starters have the potential to fuel a first-round upset.

On Saturday, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton explained that the Blazers’ re-tooled starting lineup ranked near the top of the league down the stretch of the regular season.

Additionally, the Blazers’ rating benefits from how well their starting five has played after getting CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic back from injuries and adding Norman Powell at the trade deadline. According to NBA Advanced Stats, only one lineup in the NBA has played more minutes with a better net rating than Portland’s plus-13.4 points per 100 possessions in 370 minutes with those five players: the Philadelphia 76ers’ starting five (plus-14.0 in 656 minutes).

The Blazers and Nuggets face each other in Game 1 this evening. You can read the full series-by-series analysis from Pelton at ESPN+ (subscription required).