Portland Trail Blazers (42-30) vs Denver Nuggets (47-25)
The Portland Trail Blazers face the Denver Nuggets in game two of the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Blazers look to keep the momentum on their side entering this one, winners of 10 of their last 12 to end the regular season, and taking a series lead in game one. The Denver Nuggets are hoping to turn around their luck, having lost two straight games to the Blazers, those being the last game of the regular season, and game one of the playoffs.
Where To Watch
Monday, May 24 - 7:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, TNT, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out)
Nuggets injuries: Jamal Murray (out), PJ Dozier (out), Will Barton (out), PJ Dozier (out)
SBN Affiliate: Denver Stiffs
What To Watch For
- Michael Porter Jr. Taking a quick look at Porter Jr.’s shooting splits shows an atrocious night shooing the three ball, but looking closer shows that Porter Jr. shot 11/11 from inside the arc. The Blazers don’t have a lot of guys that can effectively guard a 6’11” wing that can handle as well as Porter Jr. can, and if he hits closer to his season average from three this game, the Blazers will have to do a much better job at stopping him inside.
- Three Point Shooting. In game one of this series, the Blazers shot 19/40 from three compared to the 11/36 from three from the Nuggets. Both teams are in the top ten three point shooting teams in the league by percentage, and the difference in game one was that one team shot significantly above their season average, and one shot significantly below their season average. The Blazers continuing their three point barrage this game would greatly increase their chances of coming back to Portland up 2-0.
- Nikola Jokic’s playmaking. Jokic posted 34 points in game one, but the most surprising stat in his statline was the one assist. The Blazers held the likely MVP to a season low for assists, meaning that even though Jokic seemed to be scoring almost at will, the Blazers were taking his teammates out of the equation. With truly great players, of which Jokic is one, you can’t hope to completely shut them down at all times, but if you can take away parts of what makes them so dangerous, you can try and rein in the damage they do. If the Blazers can make it so that Jokic has limited options to pass to, they can start taking pieces out of his game that will hurt the Nuggets’ overall offense.
What Others Are Saying
Ryan Blackburn of the Denver Stiffs talked about Nikola Jokic’s scoring difference between the halves and the result on the Nuggets as a team.
It was a very impressive scoring night from Nikola Jokić as he went for 34 points and 16 rebounds on 14-of-27 from the field. His shot quality was pretty low, and he had to settle for some difficult looks, but he made several of them. At one point, he had 22 points on 9-of-16 from the field going into halftime. He had just 12 points in the second half though, and the Nuggets felt significantly different offensively because of it.
Michael C. Wright of NBA.com mentioned how the Blazers adjusted and exposed the Nuggets attempts to quell the three point barrage.
Issues with Denver’s pick-and-roll coverage definitely played a role in what transpired, which is why Nuggets coach Michael Malone kept stressing to his team during the second half to get up on the screen to take away the 3-pointer.
Denver focused late in the second half on executing Malone’s instructions. But when the Nuggets cheated up on the pick-and-roll to take away the long ball, Portland’s ballhandlers — namely Lillard — routinely found open teammates near the basket.
That left the Nuggets indecisive about what to take away, which is partly why Portland still managed to knock down 5-for-10 from deep in a fourth quarter that they matched Denver’s scoring in the paint (8 points).