Portland Trail Blazers (42-30) vs. Denver Nuggets (47-25)
The NBA playoffs are upon us, as the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Denver Nuggets on Saturday in the opening contest of this first-round series. Denver enters this contest as the No. 3 seed, with Portland the No. 6 team in the conference.
Denver enters as 1.0-point favorites in this game. The Nuggets are 6-4 and the last 10 meetings between these teams. Portland won the most recent contest, defeating the Nuggets on May 16, 132-116.
Trail Blazers on FirePortland enters this contest at 8-2 in their last 10 games. The victories have been impressive, as they had beaten Utah and Denver, the first and third seeds in the Western Conference, as well as Brooklyn, the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They have also beaten the Lakers back on May 7.
Portland finished the regular season fifth in points per game at 116.1 while allowing 114.3 points per game, 23rd overall. They are 23rd in field-goal percentage at 45.3% but have been great from beyond the arc, sixth at 38.5%, and from the free-throw line, third overall at 82.3%. They are averaging 44.5 rebounds per game, 12th overall.
Damian Lillard led Portland in scoring at 28.8 points per game and was also the leader in assists at 7.5 per contest. CJ McCollum is second at 23.1 points per game, and Carmelo Anthony has been impressive off the bench, averaging 13.4 points per contest. Zach Collins is out for the Trail Blazers
Nuggets Golden Entering PlayoffsThere was a point where the Denver Nuggets looked like they were in a bit of trouble. From May 3 until May 8, the team went 1-3 with losses to Utah, the Lakers, and Brooklyn, all potential playoff foes. However, the Nuggets 13 straight games before losing to Portland in the final regular-season game. That makes them 6-4 in their last 10.
Denver is eighth in points per game at 115.1 and is eighth in points allowed per contest at 110.1. They are shooting 48.5% from the field, fourth overall, l and eighth from the three-point range at 37.7%. The Nuggets are seventh in free-throw percentage at 80.3%.
Nikola Jokic leads Denver at 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. Second-leading scorer Jamal Murray (21.2 ppg) is done for the year. Michael Porter is averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Nuggets will also be without Will Barton (12.7 ppg) and PJ Dozier. Austin Rivers is expected back for this game.
Portland Trail Blazers:
- 7-1 ATS in their last eight games on the road.
- 4-1 ATS in their last five games.
- 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against teams with a winning record
- 1-6 ATS in their last seven games when playing on three day’s rest or more.
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games against teams with a winning record.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Nuggets are an interesting team. Despite missing their second-leading scorer, the team is rallying behind Nikola, who is definitely an MVP candidate. He seemingly can do it all.
However, you have to like Portland here. This team has been in playoff mode for about a month, as they had to win just about every game they played, and that has helped to boost them to the No. 6 seed in the conference. This Trail Blazers team has a lot of moxie, and they are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings with Denver.
Full-Game Total Pick
The total is set at 227.5. Portland has gone under in four of their last five games against teams with a winning record. However, Denver has gone over in five of their last seven conference quarterfinals games and has gone over in 10 of their last 14 games against teams with a winning record.
The last time these teams met, 248 points were scored. However, these teams have gone under 227 in the two previous meetings. Portland dominated Denver the last time these teams played, and I look for that here as well.
Take the Trail Blazers to win, 117-114.