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Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers: Match Preview & Predictions - 23rd October 2019

Arvind S
SENIOR ANALYST
Preview
23 Oct 2019, 03:00 IST

The two Western Conference behemoths will be looking to start things on the right note
The two Western Conference behemoths will be looking to start things on the right note

Match details

Fixture: Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers

Date & Time: Wednesday, 23rd October - 10:00 PM ET

Venue: Moda Center, Portland, OR

Last game result

Denver Nuggets: 110-104 victory against Portland Trail Blazers (Preseason, October 18th)

Portland Trail Blazers: 104-110 loss to Denver Nuggets (Preseason, October 18th)

Match overview

The Denver Nuggets will begin their 2019/20 NBA campaign with a tricky trip to the Moda Center to take on the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Nuggets exceeded expectations last time around, finishing with an admirable 54-28 record in the regular season. However, a disappointing exit at the hands of the Blazers in the second round of the playoffs took some shine off their campaign.

Nevertheless, buoyed by a confidence-boosting pre-season campaign in which they remained unbeaten, the Nuggets will look to make an early statement and prove that 2018/19 was no fluke.

The Blazers too silenced their doubters with a run to the Western Conference Finals last season. Strengthened by several key additions in the off-season, the Blazers will fancy their chances of making a deep run once again.

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Key players

Denver Nuggets Media Day
Denver Nuggets Media Day

Denver Nuggets - Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic has developed into one of the finest big men in the league. Last season, he was the catalyst for the Nuggets' success, averaging career highs in points (20.1), rebounds (10.8) and assists (7.3).

Jokic is an elite passer and much of the Nuggets' success on offense will depend on the Serb's display on the night.

He is coming off a disappointing FIBA World Cup campaign with Serbia and will be desperate to prove a point in the Nuggets' season opener.

Portland Trail Blazers - Damian Lillard

Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three
Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

Portland's offense runs through Damian Lillard and he will hold the key for the Blazers once again in this contest.

Lillard was particularly impressive in the playoff series against the Nuggets last season, averaging 25.1 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds per game. He didn't have an overly productive pre-season campaign though and will be looking to kickstart his season with a vintage performance here.

Predicted starting lineups

Denver Nuggets: Paul Millsap, Torrey Craig, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris

Portland Trail Blazers: Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Hassan Whiteside, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum

Nuggets vs Trail Blazers match prediction

The two sides will probably be sick of the sight of one another. Nine of the Nuggets' last 11 games have been against the Blazers - following Denver's loss to Lillard and co. in the second round of the playoffs, the two teams squared off once again during this pre-season, with the Nuggets emerging victorious on both occasions.

However, pre-season counts for little once the real action begins and both sides will be well aware of that fact heading into this contest.

Portland coach Terry Stotts tried out a whole host of combinations for his rotation during pre-season but is yet to truly settle on a starting power forward. Moreover, the absence of Pau Gasol is likely to affect the Blazers to a significant extent early in the season.

The Nuggets, on the other hand, look much more settled and know what it takes to win at the Moda Center - they won the only regular season game played in Portland last campaign and also triumphed in Game 4 of their playoff series. They also enter this contest on the back of an unbeaten pre-season campaign and look the stronger team on paper.

Where to watch Nuggets vs Trail Blazers?

The Nuggets vs Trail Blazers game will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN. You can also live stream the game via NBA League Pass.

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