Tune-In Tidbits: TNT Thursday, June 3, 2021
Get ready for a pair of Game 6s Thursday on TNT with five key stats to know about each matchup.
Brian Martin, for NBA.com
• Game 5 was Damian Lillard’s second career 50-point playoff game and 14th overall 50-point game in his career. How will Lillard follow up his most recent 50-point performance? In the game following his previous 13 50-point games, Lillard has averaged 35.3 points, 6.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds and posted 46.2%-40.8%-92.0% shooting splits. He has 10 games with at least 30 points, including three over 40 and one over 60. The Blazers are 7-6 in the game after Dame scores 50, but have won their last three such games.
• Austin Rivers was the primary defender on Lillard for a team-high 9:02 (59.9% of Lillard’s offensive matchup time) and allowed 19 points (34.5% of Lillard’s 55) on 5-8 shooting from the field, 4-7 from 3-point range and 5-5 at the free throw line. Lillard also scored in double digits when matched up with Nikola Jokic (10 points, 4-6 FG, 2-3 3P in 1:27) and Michael Porter Jr. (12 points, 4-5 FG, 3-4 3P in 1:05).
• How will both teams respond to the quick turnaround from a grueling double-overtime game? Denver may have a rest advantage as the Blazers have four players that have averaged more minutes than any Nuggets player in the series. Damian Lillard leads all playoff players at 41.0 minutes per game, followed by CJ McCollum (40.2 mpg, 3rd), Robert Covington (38.0 mpg, 10th) and Norman Powell (36.8 mpg, 17th) all averaging more minutes than Denver’s leader Nikola Jokic (35.0 mpg, T-27th).
• In addition to his team-high 38 points in Game 5, Nikola Jokic also dished out nine assists – his highest mark of the series – after dishing out a total of 12 assists in the first four games combined. A key to Game 5 was his teammates knocking down shots: Michael Porter followed up his 1-3 performance in Game 4 by shooting 10-13 and scoring 26 points in Game 5, Aaron Gordon shot 6-11, Austin Rivers shot 5-10, and Monte Morris shot 7-18 for 28 points off the bench.
• Monte Morris single-handedly outscored the entire Blazers bench in Game 5 as he had 28 of Denver’s 48 bench points compared to just 22 for the Blazers. Denver is outscoring Portland 36-25 on average for the series, as the Nuggets’ bench scoring is up by nearly four points from the regular season (32.2 ppg, 27th in NBA). Meanwhile, the Blazers’ bench scoring has dropped off by nearly 10 points as they have relied more heavily on their starters compared to the regular season (34.7 ppg, 20th).
• LeBron James is in unfamiliar territory with his team facing elimination in the first round. If he hopes to extend his 14-0 streak in the first round, the Lakers will need to survive two elimination games against the Suns, the first in Game 6 on Thursday. LeBron is 12-12 in his career in elimination games (6-6 in the Finals, 6-6 prior to the Finals). In those elimination games, LeBron has averaged 33.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists while playing 45 minutes per game.
• Anthony Davis’ status for Game 6 remains unknown due to a groin injury. Without Davis in Game 5, the Lakers had no answers for the Suns as Phoenix led by as many as 36 points and finished with a 115-85 win. The 30-point win was the biggest playoff victory for the Suns in 15 years, since they defeated the Lakers by 31 on May 6, 2006. The 30-point loss was the biggest playoff defeat the Lakers suffered since April 26, 2013 when they fell to the Spurs by 31 points.
• After opening the series with a pair of 30+ point games, Devin Booker had scored a total of 36 points on 11-33 (33.3%) shooting from the field and 2-9 (22.2%) shooting from 3-point range in Games 3 and 4. He bounced back with a 30-point performance on 13-23 shooting in just 33 minutes in Game 5.
• Two big questions heading into Game 6: Will Anthony Davis be able to play after missing Game 5 with a groin injury? How will Chris Paul look after re-aggravating his shoulder injury in Game 5? Paul finished with nine points, six assists and four rebounds in 23 minutes in Game 5 and has averaged 11.3 points and 7.7 assists in Phoenix’s three wins. Davis has averaged 34 points and 10.5 rebounds in 40.1 minutes in L.A.’s two wins and just 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in 29.1 minutes in the Lakers’ two losses
• The Suns have been 37 points per 100 possessions better with Jae Crowder on the court (18.8 net rating in 152 minutes) than off the court (-18.2 in 88 minutes) during this series. That is the highest on-court/off-court differential of any player in the series; LeBron James leads the Lakers at 34.3.