Playoff Spot At Stake In Regular Season Finale Versus Denver

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

The Portland Trail Blazers know what they have to do.

After playing 71 games over the course of five months, the Trail Blazers arrive at their regular season finale versus the Denver Nuggets still needing a victory in order to secure their eighth-straight postseason berth. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.

With a win, Portland ensures finishing no worse than sixth, and there’s still a chance to end as high as fifth. With a loss, they likely fall into seventh, and thus, will have to win a game in the play-in tournament in order to get either the seventh or eighth seed. Results of other games -- every team in the NBA is playing on the final day of the season -- could potentially change what the Trail Blazers need to do in order to advance, but with those games tipping at or near the same time as Portland’s, the only way to guarantee a spot in the 2021 playoffs is to win.


ALL TIME: Trail Blazers lead, 99-87
PORTLAND HOME: Trail Blazers lead, 69-24
DENVER HOME: Nuggets, 63-29
LAST PORTLAND WIN: 125-115, 8/6/20 (Denver)
LAST DENVER WIN: 106-105, 4/21/21 (Portland)


• The Trail Blazers May 16 game against the Nuggets will be the third and final meeting between the two teams this season. Denver leads the season series, 2-0.

LAST GAME: Denver narrowly defeated Portland, 106-105, on April 21 at Moda Center. Damian Lillard led Portland with 22 points (9-23 FG, 2-10 3-PT, 2-2 FT), four rebounds, five assists and two steals. Nikola Jokic paced the Nuggets with 25 points (9-18 FG, 1-6 3-PT, 6-7 FT), nine rebounds and five assists.

• In two games against the Nuggets this season, Damian Lillard has averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists. He has scored at least 20 points in each of his last four games against the Nuggets, including a 45-point performance on August 6, 2020 when he matched a career-high with 11 three-pointers.

• Norman Powell finished with 17 points (4-10 FG, 1-4 3-PT, 8-8 FT), two rebounds, two assists and two steals against the Nuggets on April 21. Powell has scored at least 15 points in each of his last four games against Denver.

• CJ McCollum had 14 points (6-13 FG, 2-7 3-PT) and matched a season-high with nine rebounds to go with five assists and two steals against Denver on April 21.

• Carmelo Anthony has scored 20-plus points in 13 of his 19 career games against the Nuggets. In two games against Denver this season, Anthony has averaged 18.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

• Nikola Jokic has recorded at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in four of his last five games against the Trail Blazers.

• Michael Porter Jr. scored 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting (1-4 3-PT), to go with five rebounds and two assists against Portland on April 21. Porter has recorded a double-double in two of his last three outings against the Trail Blazers.

MILESTONE WATCH: Damian Lillard (270 3PM in 2020-21) is one three-pointer from breaking his own franchise record for threes in a season. Lillard made 270 three-pointers in 2019-20.


Game #71 - Phoenix 118, Portland 117 — May 13, 2021, Phoenix Suns Arena, Phoenix

The Trail Blazers were able to mount a nine point fourth quarter comeback but weren't able to seal the win, falling 118-117 to the Suns in Phoenix ... Portland's 54.3% from the field was the team's third-best shooting performance of the season ... Damian Lillard led Portland with 41 points (16-23 FG, 2-6 3-PT, 7-8 FT), five rebounds and five assists ... It was his 19th career game with 40p/5r/5a, equaling the total of all other Trail Blazers in team history ... CJ McCollum added 27 points (11-19 FG, 5-9 3-PT) and six assists ... Robert Covington finished with 16 points (5-10 FG, 4-8 3-PT, 2-4 FT), four rebounds, four assists and two steals ... Norman Powell had 12 points (4-9 FG, 2-3 3-PT, 2-2 FT), four rebounds, three assists and two steals ... Jusuf Nurkic had seven points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals ... Chris Paul led Phoenix with 26 points (11-14 FG, 2-2 3-PT, 2-2 FT) and seven assists ... Mikal Bridges had 21 points and a season-high 11 rebounds.

Game #70 - Portland 105, Utah 98 — May 12, 2021, Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City

Portland handed Utah its second consecutive loss, taking down the league leading Jazz, 105-98 in Salt Lake City ... Portland lowered their magic number to one win or one Lakers loss to avoid the play in ... Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with his 34th 30+ point game of the season, finishing with 30 points (10-20 FG, 3-9 3-PT, 7-8 FT), two rebounds, six assists and one block ... It was his 34th game of the season with at least 30 points, tied for the second most such games in the league ... CJ McCollum added 26 points (12-22 FG, 2-6 3-PT, four rebounds and four assists ... Carmelo Anthony scored 18 points (7-13 FG, 4-5 3-PT), to go with two rebounds and one assist ... Jusuf Nurkic had 11 points (3-14 FG, 5-8 FT), 15 rebounds, six assists, three steals and four blocks ... He is the second player in the league this season to put up that statline or better (Antetokounmpo) ... Jordan Clarkson led Utah with 29 points (11-17 FG, 3-8 3-PT, 4-5 FT) and three assists.

Game #69 - Portland 140, Houston 129 — May 10, 2021, Moda Center, Portland

The Trail Blazers set a franchise record with 50 first quarter points, and reached 140 total points for the second time in the last four games, beating the Rockets 140-129 at Moda Center ... Portland tied an NBA record with 12 three-pointers in the first quarter ... Portland had four players score 20+ for the third time this season ... Damian Lillard led Portland with 34 points (11-20 FG, 6-11 3-PT, 6-6 FT), nine rebounds and six assists ... CJ McCollum added 28 points (8-17 FG, 6-10 3-PT, 6-8 FT), three rebounds and seven assists ... Norman Powell scored 28 points (9-17 FG, 3-8 3-PT, 7-9 FT) and had six rebounds and four assists ... Jusuf Nurkic recorded 22 points on 10-of-14 from the field (2-2 FT), six rebounds, five assists and three steals ... Derrick Jones Jr. had 11 points, three rebounds and three assists off the bench ... Kelly Olynyk led Houston with 21 points (5-12 FG, 1-2 3-PT, 10-10 FT), eight rebounds and six assists ... D.J. Augustin had a season-high 21 points.


Zach Collins (left ankle, stress fracture) is out for Sunday’s finale.

As for the Nuggets, Will Barton (right hamstring; strain), PJ Dozier (right adductor; strain) and Jamal Murray (left ACL; surgery) are out.


Sunday’s game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest. The game can be heard on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Deschutes Brewery Trail Blazers Radio Network.


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