Last Updated: 2019-05-09
The Portland Trail Blazers didn’t stand a chance in Game 5. Denver blitzed Portland from the outset on Tuesday night, and the Nuggets entered the third quarter up 93-65 to cruise to an easy win. The Nuggets are now up 3-2 in their series with the Blazers, and they have a chance to close out in order to advance to the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night. If Denver can’t win in Portland tonight, Game 7 will be in Denver on Sunday night.
There has not been more than a day between games in this series, so both teams are dealing with fatigue coming into Thursday night’s game. That could further affect Portland’s Mo Harkless (ankle) and Enes Kanter (left shoulder). Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic and Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. are each long-term injuries.
We have seen a little bit of action on Portland since the line opened. Portland was initially -3.5 against Denver in Game 6, but that line has moved to -4. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that line drop back down to where it opened and perhaps move even further in favorite of the Nuggets. The total is 215.
Nikola Jokic was incredible once again on Tuesday night. Jokic is making a strong case for being the best center in the league, and he had his best rebounding game of the series in Game 5. Jokic finished with 25 points and 19 rebounds (six offensive), and he sunk more than 50 percent of his field goals for the fourth time this series.
He continues to have his way with Portland’s big men, and the Blazers’ starting frontcourt had its worst performance of the series. Al-Farouq Aminu and Enes Kanter combined to go 3-17 from the floor, and they managed to score just 10 points between them.
Kanter could be better in Game 6. Although he is dealing with a left shoulder injury that is progressively getting worse, he will at least be hydrated before the game. Kanter is currently observing Ramadan as part of his faith, and that meant he fasted until a little under an hour before game time in Game 5.
Portland’s backcourt carried the team into the playoffs and past Oklahoma City in the first round. However, neither Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum has been able to do enough to overcome a terrible performance from the frontcourt against the Nuggets. Those two have been about average in this series, but they were below average on Tuesday and Portland got blasted as a result.
The silver lining for the Blazers in Game 5 was the game was so much of a blowout that the starters were taken out early to get rest. Terry Stotts emptied his unreliable bench, and Portland should get a much better showing from its starters on Thursday night.
Gary Harris has done a great job in slowing down Portland’s guards. Harris made a name for himself against San Antonio by shutting down Derrick White after White went off early in their first round series, and he has been even better in this series. His play is part of the reason why I’m taking Denver to pull off the upset and close out this series.
The other reason why I’m taking Denver on Thursday night is because Portland has been unable to stop the Nuggets’ pick and roll. Jokic and Jamal Murray have been playing beautifully off one another, and Murray was excellent on Tuesday night. I think he’ll have another solid performance in Game 6.
<< Previous PostNext Post >>