Western Conference Semifinals Game 3 Preview: (2) Denver Nuggets vs. (3) Portland Trail Blazers

by Casey Holdahl
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After the Trail Blazers and Nuggets split the first two games of the Western Conference Semifinals in Denver, the series now shifts to Portland for the next two contests starting with Game 3 Friday night at the Moda Center.

“They say the series starts when someone wins a game on the road and we were able to do that (Wednesday night), so our goal is to just take it one game at a time and protect our home floor," said Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. "We have two games on our home floor and we have to be just as sharp, if not better because you know they are going to come back better. That’s our main focus, just take care of our home floor."

Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on ESPN.

SERIES HISTORY

REGULAR SEASON, ALL-TIME: Trail Blazers lead, 98-82
IN PORTLAND: Trail Blazers lead, 69-22
AT THE NUGGETS: Nuggets lead, 60-29

PLAYOFFS, ALL-TIME: Series tied, 6-6
IN PORTLAND: Trail Blazers lead, 3-2
AT THE NUGGETS: Nuggets lead, 4-3

2018-19 MATCHUPS

Fri. Nov. 30: Denver 113, PORTLAND 112
Sun. Jan. 13: DENVER 116, Portland 113
Fri. April 5: DENVER 119, Portland 110
Sun. April 7: PORTLAND 115, Denver 108

SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE

PORTLAND - DENVER SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE

GAME

DATE

LOCATION

TIME (PDT)

Television

Game 1

Monday, April 29

Denver

7:30 PM

TNT

Game 2

Wednesday, May 1

Denver

6 PM

TNT

Game 3

Friday, May 3

Portland

7:30 PM

ESPN

Game 4

Sunday, May 5

Portland

4 PM

TNT

Game 5

Tuesday, May 7

Denver

7:30 PM

TNT

Game 6*

Thursday, May 9

Portland

TBD

ESPN

Game 7*

Sunday, May 12

Denver

TBD

TBD

*if necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS RESULTS

Western Conference Semifinals, Game #1 - Denver 121, Portland 113 — April 29, Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

The Trail Blazers fell to the Nuggets in Denver in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, 121-113 ... Damian Lillard scored a game-high 39 points (12-21 FG, 4-12 3-PT, 11-13 FT) to go with three rebounds, six assists and one steal ... Enes Kanter added 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting (4-4 FT) while hauling in seven rebounds ... Rodney Hood led all players in scoring o€ the bench, finishing with 17 points (5-10 FG, 3-4 3-PT, 4-4 FT) to go with two rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes ... CJ McCollum added 16 points (7-17 FG, 2-7 3-PT), four rebounds, three assists and one block ... The Nuggets scored 23 points o€ of 18 Portland turnovers while the Trail Blazers scored six points on 13 Denver turnovers ... Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 37 points (11-18 FG, 3-5 3-PT, 12-12 FT), nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks ... Jamal Murray tacked on 23 points (8-15 FG, 3-6 3-PT, 4-4 FT), eight assists and two steals.

Western Conference Semifinals, Game #2 - Portland 97, Denver 90 — May 1, Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

Portland evened its best-of-seven series against the Nuggets at 1-1 with a 97-90 victory in Denver ... The Trail Blazers held the Nuggets to 12 points in the second quarter, matching the lowest-scoring second quarter by a Portland opponent in franchise postseason history ... Denver’s 35 points in the first half were the fewest points scored in the  first half of a playo€ff game by a Portland opponent since May 9, 2000 ... CJ McCollum scored a team-high 20 points (8-20 FG, 3-7 3-PT, 1-2 FT) to go with six rebounds and six assists ... Rodney Hood scored 15 points o€ the bench on 5-of-11 shooting (2-6 3-PT, 3-4 FT) ... Enes Kanter had 15 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks ... Al-Farouq Aminu had his first double-double of the postseason, finishing with 11 points and 10 rebounds ... Damian Lillard recorded 14 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block ... Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.

SEASON SERIES NOTES

• Denver won the season series against Portland in 2018-19, 3-1. All four games were decided by single digits.

• In four games against the Nuggets, Damian Lillard averaged 21.3 points (37.1% FG, 28.6% 3-PT, 95.8% FT), 3.8 rebounds and 7.0 assists. Lillard shot 23-of-24 from the free-throw-line against Denver this season.

• CJ McCollum averaged 20.0 points (45.3% FG, 26.3% 3-PT, 100% FT), 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in three games against the Nuggets this season.

• In four games against the Nuggets, Al-Farouq Aminu averaged 16.0 points (50.0% FG, 31.6% 3-PT, 94.7% FT), 11.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.00 steal. His 16.0 points per game was his highest scoring average against a Western Conference opponent this season.

• Nikola Jokic averaged 25.7 points (62.0% FG, 38.5% 3-PT, 76.9% FT), 9.7 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 1.00 steal in three games against the Trail Blazers this season.

PLAYOFF SERIES NOTES

• Portland and Denver have faced each other twice previously in the postseason, with each team winning one series.

• Entering the series, the Trail Blazers and Nuggets were tied, 5-5, against each other in the playoffs, all-time.

• The Trail Blazers defeated the Nuggets 4-2 in the 1977 NBA Western Conference Semifinals despite Denver holding home court advantage. Portland won the NBA Championship that year.

• The Nuggets took a five-game first round series vs. the Trail Blazers in 1986, 3-1.

• Former Trail Blazers Will Barton and Mason Plumlee have playoff experience with the Trail Blazers. Barton averaged 6.4 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.4 assists and 11.6 minutes in six games during the 2014 postseason vs. Houston and San Antonio. Plumlee posted averages of 7.0 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.00 block and 27.8 minutes in 11 starts vs. the LA Clippers and Golden State in 2016.

• The series is only Portland’s second playoff matchup against a divisional opponent since facing the Lakers in 2002 as members of the Pacific Division. Entering this postseason vs. divisional rivals Oklahoma City and Denver, the Trail Blazers had never faced a Northwest Division opponent since the division was formed in 2004-05.

CONNECTIONS

• Portland center Jusuf Nurkic averaged 7.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 139 games (59 starts) in two-plus seasons with the Nuggets. Nurkic was acquired by the Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee and a 2017 first round pick on Feb. 13, 2017. Plumlee averaged 9.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 136 games (all starts) across two seasons in Portland.

• Denver guard Will Barton was selected by the Trail Blazers with the 40th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft. He averaged 3.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 144 games (five starts) in two-plus seasons with Portland.

• Trail Blazers forward/center Skal Labissiere and Denver guard Jamal Murray were teammates at the University of Kentucky for the 2015-16 season.

INJURY NOTES

Trail Blazers forward Moe Harkless is questionable for Game 3 with a right ankle sprain. Center Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) is out for the duration of the postseason.

As for the Nuggets, Michael Porter Jr. (left patellar) is out for the duration of the series.

BROADCAST NOTES

Game 3 will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Travis Demers and Michael Holton will have the call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail Blazers Radio Network.

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