After finishing the regular season with a record of 42-30, the Portland Trail Blazers prepare for the NBA Playoffs and their first-round series with the Denver Nuggets, which starts with game one Saturday.
The Blazers enter the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Throughout the last month of the season, the Trail Blazers were teetering between the sixth and seventh seed. The Trail Blazers, having not been the seventh seed they completely avoided the new NBA Play-In Tournament.
Red Hot and Rollin’
The Blazers also come in playing their best basketball as of late with a record of 7-2 in the final month of the regular season, which earned head coach Terry Stotts Western Conference Coach of the Month, which was announced by the NBA Monday. Also, in the final week of the regular season, the Trail Blazers were helped substantially by Damian Lillard, who in the last week in four games averaged 31.8 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists to help the Blazers get locked into the playoff field. Not only were the Blazers playing their best basketball behind Damian Lillard, but the three-guard line-up featuring Lillard, CJ McCollum and Norman Powell is starting to work. The Blazers also have a top 15 defense in the league with a healthy Jusuf Nurkic over the past 10 games.
Turn The Attention
However, now it’s time to turn our attention to the Blazers opponent in the first round of the playoffs the Blazers will face the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets enter the NBA Playoffs as the No. 3 seed, finishing the regular season with a record of 47-25. The Denver Nuggets have been led all season by Center Nikola Jokić; he has played 72 games on the season, and he averages 26.4 points per game, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. Jokić leads the Nuggets in all of those categories. For this series, he will be a significant piece of a postseason run for the Nuggets.
Another critical component to the Nuggets’ successful season has been the play of forward Michael Porter Jr. he played 61 games in the regular season. He averaged 19 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game on the season. The play of Porter Jr. has been consequential for the Nuggets in the final stretch of the year after the team lost guard Jamal Murray for the rest of the season and the playoffs.
The Nuggets and the Blazers did play each other three times during the regular season, and the Nuggets won two of the three meetings between the teams. In the final meeting of the regular season, the Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets 132-116 in the final game of the regular season.
The Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets series will begin Saturday in Denver; Tip-off will be at 7:30 PM PST. The game will be on ESPN.
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