Game Preview: Nuggets Look to Bounce Back Against Portland

The Denver Nuggets return to Pepsi Center tonight as they welcome the Portland Trail Blazers to town. This will be the second game in as many nights for Denver as they fell to the Suns in Phoenix last night.

Despite last night’s loss, the Nuggets are still in first place in the Western Conference with a record of 28-13. The good news for Denver is that they return to Pepsi Center, where they’ve gone 17-3 this season, the best home record in the Western Conference. This will be the fifth game in the last seven days for the Nuggets, part of a stretch where the team will play 11 games in 19 days.

The Trail Blazers come in with a 26-17 record and sit in fourth place in the Western Conference. Portland has won their last four games and six of their last seven outings. The Trail Blazers have gone 8-10 on the road this season.

These two teams last met on November 30th with the Nuggets winning a close one in Portland, 113-112. The Nuggets were led by Gary Harris’ 27 points in the win.

Here is what to watch for tonight:

Stopping the Blazer’s backcourt: The Trail Blazers have one of the most prolific backcourts in the league with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Both players average over 21 points a game and are masters at creating their own shot. Lillard is 10th in the league in scoring at 25.8 points per game, while McCollum is 22nd in the league at 21.1 points. McCollum and Lillard play the second most minutes together of any duo in the league, leading the league in percentage of points coming unassisted as a pair.

The Nuggets held Lillard to just 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting in the first game between these teams, however McCollum went off for 33 points on 14-of-21 from the floor.

Will Barton’s return to Pepsi Center: Will Barton made his return to action last night against the Suns, marking the first time he’s stepped on the court since going down with an injury on October 20th. Barton saw 16 minutes of action against the Phoenix, recording six points, five rebounds and three assists. Tonight’s game will provide Barton another opportunity to get his rhythm and timing back with his teammates as well as seeing how his body responds to short rest and the altitude.

Staying perfect in the division: The Nuggets have an unblemished record in the Northwest Division as they have gone 5-0. Tonight’s game provides another opportunity to add some cushion within the division. The Blazers and Thunder are close on Denver’s tail, both less than three games behind in the standings. The Nuggets have a tiebreaker as of now over the Thunder, having beat them twice already this season. A win tonight would mean that the worst the Nuggets could finish the season against Portland is a series tie.

Tonight’s game will tip at 6 pm and will air on Altitude TV and the AltitudeNOW app. Fans can listen on Altitude Radio, 92.5 FM.