The Portland Trail Blazers entered Denver for Game 1 on a mission, and while Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. had huge offensive numbers for the Denver Nuggets, that wasn’t enough against a balanced attack from Portland. Damian Lillard led the way with 34 points and got help from CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons. It’s no guarantee that the Blazers will get so much support from the cast throughout this series, but they were able to capitalize on it in Game 1.
For Denver, despite losing Jamal Murray and WIll Barton, as the No.3 seed, they are still expected to win this series. We’ll have to see how they react after being beaten 123-109. Here’s everything you need to know before Game 2.
(3) Denver Nuggets vs. (6) Portland Trail Blazers
- Dated: Monday May 24 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
- Location: Ball Arena – Denver, Colorado
- TV: TNT | Direct: TNT
- Chances: POR +100; DEN -120 | OR: 227 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Nuggets: Jokic is going to need more help outside of Porter Jr. to win this series, otherwise Denver could be upset in the first round. Aaron Gordon had a solid outing, finishing with 16 points and eight rebounds, but guys like Monte Morris, Austin Rivers, Paul Millsap and JaMychal Green need to step it up. Portland basically let Jokic get what he wanted, daring the other guys around him to beat them, and that worked in their favor as the Nuggets shot just 30 percent from deep. It was always going to be a tough job for this Denver side without their second-best player, and while Barton’s return may be on the horizon, these Nuggets players need to contribute more in the meantime.
Trail Blazers: Portland played a perfect game and was rewarded with a 1-0 lead in the series. Now they’ll have to do it three more times against a Denver side that looked like they were caught off guard by the Blazers. In the end, Simons isn’t always going to score 14 points, and Anthony can have cold filming nights. It will be interesting to see how the Blazers react in Game 2 as the Nuggets prepare to fight back. Will their defense resist? Will Nurkic and Norman Powell continue to be consistent when Denver starts to tighten up on Lillard and McCollum? These are things to watch out for in Game 2.
I think the Nuggets even progressed in the series in Game 2. But I don’t think it will be easy for Denver in the future. There are paths for them to win this series, but Portland looked really strong in Game 1, and without a player like Murray to push Jokic’s defense away the road ahead will be very bumpy for the Nuggets. Choice: nuggets -1.5