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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets Game Five Preview

The Portland Trail Blazers take that winning feeling back to Denver for Game 5.

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Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (42-30) vs. Denver Nuggets (47-25)

Forget best of seven, this series is now a best of three proposition with the Denver Nuggets owning 66.7 per cent of the remaining home games. This is out and out the Blazers most important game this season. Win, and they come back to Moda looking to close out in six games. Lose and they face the threat of elimination in Game 6. Portland blitzed the Nuggets behind behemoth efforts from Jusut Nurkic and Norman Powell. Damian Lillard, however, shot a miserable 1 for 10 from the field. If the Blazers can bring the same intensity with 50 per cent of Lillard’s regular production then Portland will be in the hunt.

Tuesday, June 1 - 6 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, TNT NBATV or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out)
Nuggets injuries: Jamal Murray (out), PJ Dozier (out), Will Barton (out)
SBN Affiliate: Denver Stiffs

What To Watch For

  • Damian Lillard. Portland fans need to be thankful for Saturday’s team effort because, ordinarily, the Blazers are losing if Dame shoots 10 percent from the field. Surely, Portland’s superstar couldn’t play any worse tonight, could he? Lillard has a habit for getting up for big games and so even marginal improvement from go a long way in quieting Nuggets fans early.
  • Jusuf Nurkic. If Game 4 proved anything, it’s that when Nurk turns into the Bosnian Beast, the Blazers are hard to stop. Not only did he deliver for Portland on the offensive end, his ability to quell the likely MVP Nikola Jokic, was inspiring. Maybe he needs some outside motivation — thank you Kendrick Perkins. Can we suggest his teammates remind him of all the negative comments alleged experts have said throughout his seven-year career?
  • Early energy. I almost called this the Norman Powell factor. It was Norm that came out throwing figurative punches at the Nuggets from the tip on Saturday. He set the tone for the Blazers, fooling defenders on offense and getting under Michael Porter Jr.’s skin on the other side of the ball. This team, like most others, is at its best when locked in and moving the ball, playing for each other.

What Others Are Saying

Denver media is aware of the Nuggets dire position, in danger of relinquishing their hold on this knife edge series, according to Mike Singer at The Denver Post.

The Nuggets aren’t accustomed to being up early in playoff series. They were down 2-1 to the Spurs in 2019 and trailed 2-1 to these same Blazers that postseason as well. Last season, they fell behind 3-1 in all three series, storming back to win the first two. Winning Game 3 put them in uncharted territory, and the Nuggets didn’t handle the psychology well at all.

They didn’t get it, and now they are staring down the barrel of a best-of-three series against Damian Lillard, who’s unlikely to author another 1-of-10 shooting night as he did Saturday.

“We got our (butt) whooped tonight,” Green said. “That should be all the motivation we need.”

Ryan Blackburn at Denver Stiffs takes readers through the reasons why the Nuggets were blown out by the Blazers on Saturday.

The Denver Nuggets clearly didn’t come prepared for Game 4 against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon. It was a disappointing effort in a game that felt like it was over roughly one minute into the third quarter. Everything went Portland’s way (outside of one key factor) and the Nuggets just never pressured the Blazers in this game in any concerning way.

Evan Vega at the Daily Colorado News agrees the Jusuf Nurkic is one of the biggest X-factors in this series.

If you look through the Joker’s MVP-sized shadow you’ll find that Nurkic actually has a pretty good streak. He averages 13.3 points at 56 percent shooting and 11 rebounds. The problem here is his struggle to stay out of bad trouble. In the first three games, Nurk averaged more than five fouls per night, reducing his playing time on each game.

In Game 4, coach Terry Stotts seemed determined to match Nurk’s minutes with Jokic, to the delight of Blazer fans across the Twitter verse. Now he has the added responsibility of not only doing everything possible to slow down the eventual MVP, but also avoiding fouling.