Game Preview: Nuggets Begin Road Trip in Portland
Portland – The Denver Nuggets are set to begin their five-game road trip with a trip to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers tonight in a division matchup that has seen some exciting games over the last several seasons. The Nuggets won the season series in 2017-18, going 3-1 against the Trail Blazers, including winning the last three games.
The Nuggets come in to tonight’s game riding a four-game winning streak, with two of those wins coming against division foes. The Nuggets are currently 14-7 overall and 3-0 against the Northwest division on the season.
The Trail Blazers come in with a 13-8 record but are just 6-5 against the Western Conference. Portland won their last outing 115-111 over the Orlando Magic but had lost their last three games before that. The Trail Blazers sit just a game back of the Nuggets in the Northwest standings.
Here is what to watch for:
Stopping Portland’s Elite Backcourt: The Trail Blazers have one of the highest scoring backcourts in the league with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combining to score 47.9 of Portland’s 112.8 points per game. The duo plays more minutes together than anything other pairing of players in the league at 32.2 minutes of shared court time. McCollum and Lillard excel at getting their own shot with 51.9% of their made field goals coming unassisted.
Lillard has had four games of 40+ points this season with a season-high of 42 against Miami, while McCollum had his own game of 40 points against Milwaukee.
Doing it with defense: The Nuggets have held their last three opponents under 100 points. Why is that important? Because Denver is 8-1 on the season when holding opponents to just double-digits. The Trail Blazers have been held to less than 100 points just twice this season, both resulting in losses.
Battle on the block: Perhaps the one matchup that fans will be most intently watching will be between former teammates Nikola Jokić and Jusuf Nurkic. Jokić has seen his scoring dip recently, averaging just 12.6 points over his last five games but has been dishing out assists at an impressive rate, averaging 7.6 over the same time period.
Nurkic has been a strong post presence for the Trail Blazers this season, averaging 15.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game. Nurkic has also been critical in setting screens that lead to points from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Tonight’s game will tip at 8:30 p.m. MT and will be air on Altitude TV and the AltitudeNOW app. Fans can listen on Altitude Radio, 92.5 FM.