Last Updated: 2019-05-11
The Denver Nuggets’ owners are getting the most out of this postseason. For the second straight round, the Denver Nuggets will see their series go to seven games. Denver outlasted San Antonio over seven games to advance in the last round, and the Nuggets are hoping to do the same thing against the Portland Trail Blazers to make the Western Conference Finals. Meanwhile, Portland is out to make its first conference finals in a decade with a win in the Mile High City on Sunday afternoon.
Both teams are happy to have an extra day of rest between games for the first time this series prior to Game 7. That will particularly help Portland as Enes Kanter and Mo Harkless will get to recover a little more from nagging injuries. The only two players on the injury report though are Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic and Denver’s Michael Porter Jr., and neither will see action this postseason.
Sharps are all aboard Denver in Game 7 of this series. The Nuggets opened -4.5 against the Blazers shortly after Game 6 ended, and that number has since risen to -5.5. We’ve seen the total fall sharply from where it opened too. The over/under came out at 214.5, but it has since dropped to 212.5.
Aside of Nikola Jokic, no one shot well for Denver in Game 6. The rest of the Nuggets combined to go just 23-71 from the floor, and it’s hard to win a playoff game when the majority of your team is hitting less than a third of their shots. Paul Millsap was one of the heroes of Game 5, but he went just 4-15 from the floor, while Jamal Murray was 7-20 from the field.
Murray is the second-most important player on Denver, and he cannot afford a poor shooting night. The Nuggets run a lot of their offense through pick and rolls involving Jokic and Murray, giving Murray a lot of open looks. He couldn’t knock them down in the last round, but he must sink those shots in Game 7.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have not been as overwhelming as they were against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, but they both had great games on Thursday night. They combined to hit nearly 50 percent of their field goals and 40 percent of their threes in Game 6, and both went off for 30 points. That’s more of what Portland needs from those two in Game 7.
Portland needs a little more than those two though. The Blazers have the weakest bench of any team left in the postseason, and the only player that has made an impact is Rodney Hood. Hood has hit 62 percent or better from the floor in Portland’s last four games, and his 25 points on Thursday night were huge. He is the only reserve that Portland can rely on.
I’m with the sharps on this one. I think Denver will win and cover, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Portland covering at halftime. Enes Kanter has been one of the team’s keys, and he will likely play well in the first half since this is an afternoon game during the month of Ramadan. However, he is likely to be fatigued after halftime since he is unable to take food or water, and Jokic will take advantage.
Look for Jokic to post a triple double and Murray to shoot well enough from the floor to lead Denver back to the Western Conference Finals where Golden State awaits.
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