Portland Trail Blazers vs Denver Nuggets NBA Playoffs Preview
A playoff series that started as a four-win race is now a two-win battle to advance.
The Portland Trail Blazers handled internal affairs in a 115-95 victory in Game 4 to tie their first-round streak against the Denver Nuggets at 2. Now it's Denver's turn to make adjustments for the game. Game 5 at home Tuesday night.
The first setting brings energy to the start of the game. In the two losses to Portland in this series, the Nuggets came out flat and never recovered. Even with the opportunity to take a 3-1 lead Saturday afternoon, they couldn't find the spark against the Trail Blazers, who received an unusually poor game from Damian Lillard.
Denver coach Michael Malone said his team played soft. Michael Porter Jr. was bullied on a bad shooting day and finished with just three points and three shot attempts, and star Nikola Jokic was just 16 points after dominating Portland in the first three games.
The Nuggets defense wasn't much better. Norman Powell scored 29 points for Portland and more than made up for Lillard's night off. Malone was angry at his team after failing to return to defense on a streak that led to a thunderous dunk from Powell.
The series plays out much like the second-round match between the teams two years ago. That streak was 2-2 heading into Game 5 in Denver, with each team winning once on the road. The Trail Blazers won Game 7 on the way to advance.
This is the third year in a row the Nuggets have made the playoffs, and they are on track to play a fifth Game 7 of their last six series if both teams maintain a serve at their field for the next two games. To at least have a chance to advance in Game 6 or 7, Denver has to come out of its predicament.
The Nuggets are the deepest team despite Jamal Murray or P.J. Dozier are not available. They won't have Will Barton on Tuesday night, but there's a chance he'll return for Games 6 or 7, Malone said Monday.
One key for Portland is for center Jusuf Nurkic to stay in the game. He drew the main task on Jokic and received
Portland should expect a more committed team ready to play with the Nuggets.
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