The Portland Trail Blazers remain at altitude to take on the Denver Nuggets tonight for the second time in three days.
While there was plenty for Blazers fans to be excited about on Friday despite the loss - including Scoot Henderson going for 30 points off the bench on efficient shooting - and it’s great Portland didn’t have to travel, it can be tough to face a team twice so quickly. This goes double if you’re hurt: If you play a month apart, you might have that player back from injury. In this case, Jerami Grant is listed as questionable after missing the last matchup with lower back tightness.
After allowing Denver to shoot over 50% from the field, the Blazers would love to make some defensive adjustments today. While winning every possible game may not be the goal this season, getting better certainly is, and playing the same team twice in a row gives coaches a rare chance to make tweaks with reasonably static variables, making it easier to tell whether they worked.
Portland Trail Blazers (15-34) vs. Denver Nuggets (34-16) - Sun. Feb. 4 - 5:30pm Pacific
How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass
Trail Blazers injuries: Jerami Grant (questionable); Shaedon Sharpe, Robert Williams III, Moses Brown (out)
Nuggets injuries: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Peyton Watson (probable); Vlatko Cancar (out).
Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions
As has been Blazer’s Edge tradition since satanic gargoyles made their home in the Denver International Airport, we’re asking you all to toss some questions at us for the game previews! Look for posts just like this one the night before the game, and we’ll plan to pick one or two (or more!) every game and answer them as best we can.
Okay so, I was bored on Trimet, looking at rosters…. Here is my question, and I am sorry it is not related to the nuggets, but!: why in the wide world of sports did the Warriors trade for Chris Paul?
Hopefully nobody bumped you on the shoulder and criticized you for your public policies during your TriMet ride! Keeping it short because it’s not related to the two teams in this preview: probably to get rid of Jordan Poole and to maintain that slot as a salary cap placeholder if they could find a trade for a better player.
Not a question. A comment. Nuggets are still the team to beat in the west. I’m not buying twolves or thunder or clippers.
That’s fair! I think the reigning champions who largely kept their rotation intact should get the benefit of the doubt to do it again if healthy. I will say with how the Clippers and Suns have looked lately, I buy the theory of their case wayyyy more than I did a month or two ago. Any of those three teams wouldn’t shock me, but anyone outside of them probably would. Sorry, Wolves.
About the Opponent
Bennett Durando of The Denver Post talks about some of the limitations Denver has when trying to upgrade their team at the Feb. 8 trade deadline:
There’s only so much they can do. Denver has no open roster spots and a salary cap figure exceeding the first apron, which is set at $7 million over the luxury tax level, as outlined in the league’s new collective bargaining agreement. That apron is around $172 million this season. The Nuggets are hard-capped at the new CBA-instituted second apron ($17.5 million over the luxury tax level) due to the taxpayer mid-level exception used to sign Reggie Jackson last summer. They are projected to become a second-apron team as soon as next season, meaning more penalties — including a complete restriction on sending over cash or aggregating salaries in trades — but for now, salary matching must be within 110% rather than the standard 125%. First thing’s first: All that context eliminates the possibility of a Bruce Brown reunion at his current salary ($22.5 million) unless general manager Calvin Booth is willing to completely decimate his championship roster.
Gage Bridgford of Denver Stiffs takes a closer look at Peyton Watson, Denver’s 2nd-year wing who’s beginning to find a role on this title-hopeful team:
Watson isn’t going to be a primary scorer any time soon, but he’s showing his fit alongside Nikola Jokic as a slasher on offense. His main bit of success recently has been on the defensive end. At 6’8” with a 7’ wingspan, he’s the ideal mold of a modern NBA wing, and he loves to put that length to work against tough assignments night after night. You don’t even have to guess because he tells you on his Twitter. Denver has offensive options everywhere, and they can surround Watson with enough scoring punch to offset him while he grows on that end. Adding a player like him into their rotation makes them that much more difficult to deal with down the stretch of this season.