Trail Blazers @ Nuggets Predictions: Under 226 is our Pick
The Portland Trail Blazers versus the Denver Nuggets is the series I’m most invested in, both figuratively and literally.
I have multiple tickets on Denver. I took them when they opened as the favorite, and again as the line moved the other way in favor of Portland.
Portland has done everything they can to slow down Nikola Jokic, and it’s worked. After averaging 8.3 assists per game in the regular season, Jokic hasn’t gotten more than five in any game this series.
Portland is coming off a 20-point win, but the Nuggets are currently a 2-point favorite.
Denver has a similar problem to the Boston Celtics at the moment. They have one elite talent that can carry you so far, but at some point, you need other guys to step up, in some cases outside of themselves. That’s exactly what Austin Rivers did in Game 2, when he scored 21 points on 5-of-10 from three, including 16 in the fourth quarter.
I’ve never been a Duke fan, but I always loved Rivers, strictly for his competitiveness.. He’s one of those irrational confidence guys, and I think Mike Malone realized they would need someone like that for the playoffs.
Outside of him in that one game, Denver’s most reliable Nugget has been Facundo Campazzo messing with Damian Lillard.
What was perhaps the most shocking about Portland’s lopsided win in Game 3 was that Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. put up just three points in Game 3 in nearly 23 minutes. We can talk about how Denver’s trade-deadline trade for Aaron Gordon has looked like a flop in a second, but for a player like Porter, who averaged 19 points and 15 shots per game, to only get three shots for an entire playoff game is inexcusable.
Porter hasn’t done much in terms of trying to get to the rim, but a major part of it is on Malone. As a team who is without a player like Jamaal Murray and everything he brings offensively, having a guy who put up the types of numbers Porter Jr. was in the regular season, Malone not even attempting to draw things up for Porter Jr. is absolutely ridiculous.
Instead, we got to watch Markus Howard attempt to play like it was Marquette days, and actually finished with the second-most shot attempts on the team with 14.
I think the Nuggets have done some soul searching and returning home is the best thing that could’ve happened for them right now. They’ll be in front of their 10,500 fans who get on their feet for everything Jokic does, as well as when Campazzo inevitably starts getting in Lillard’s grill again.
This point was held quiet, but Lillard struggled from the field in Game 4, but nobody really noticed with Norman Powell scoring 29 points on 73 percent from the field and 4-for-4 from deep.
I’m already invest in Denver enough, and I think with such a low line of 2, Vegas looks at this as a coin flip. Because of that, I’m eyeing the total tonight and am taking under 226. The public looks to be on the over, but the sharps are on the under in a huge way.
My pick: Under 226.