The Denver Nuggets will be on the road to take on the struggling Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. Wednesday's encounter will be the second of three meetings between the teams who will conclude their seasons facing each other on May 16.
On Feb. 23, the Denver Nuggets won 111-106 at home against the Portland Trail Blazers. Nikola Jokic's virtuoso performance with 41 points on 17-of-32 shooting led the team. The Nuggets also saw Jamal Murray score 24 points on his birthday.
Playing on home turf this time, the Portland Trail Blazers would like to reciprocate, but they could be shorthanded. Damian Lillard could be out for a fourth straight game with a hamstring injury while Jusuf Nurkic, who was also held out of the LA Clippers match on Tuesday, might be sidelined due to injury management.
Fixture - Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Wednesday, April 21st, 10:00 PM ET (Thursday, April 22nd, 7:30 AM IST)
Venue - Moda Center, Portland, OR
Denver Nuggets Preview
The Denver Nuggets appear to have recovered from Jamal Murray’s season-ending ACL injury on April 12. Since the incident, the Nuggets have reeled off three straight wins, including a double-overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.
Nikola Jokic scored 47 points on 20-of-31 shooting from the field, grabbed 15 rebounds and dished out eight assists in 45 minutes to power the Denver Nuggets to a dramatic win. Will Barton chipped in with 28 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point land.
Jokic will have the advantage when the Denver Nuggets visit the Portland Trail Blazers. The team is likely to put Enes Kanter or Jusuf Nurkic (if he plays) on the Serbian.
Key Player - Will Barton
In his third game since Murray's season-ending injury, Will Barton finally broke out of his slump on Monday. The 30-year-old had been shooting 35.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point territory in the previous six games. During that stretch, he scored 11.8 points per game, which is roughly just one point below his season average.
If the Denver Nuggets want to continue winning, they will need to get Barton going early. He will most likely match up with Norman Powell rather than CJ McCollum.
Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Facundo Campazzo l Shooting Guard - Will Barton l Small Forward - Michael Porter Jr. l Power Forward - Aaron Gordon l Center - Nikola Jokic
Portland Trail Blazers Preview
Coming off of a 113-112 loss against the LA Clippers, the Portland Trail Blazers must snap out of a difficult stretch that has seen them lose four of their last five games. Although teams have been trying their best to rest their stars, the Blazers are trying to stay afloat while Lillard and Nurkic recover from their respective injuries.
With a 32-25 record, the Portland Trail Blazers are sixth in the Western Conference. The 7th to 10th spots in the conference are 1.5 to 3.5 games behind them, respectively. They will face stiff competition with the Denver Nuggets in town and cannot afford to give up any of their next two ballgames if they want to keep their place in the standings.
Key Player - CJ McCollum
CJ McCollum has produced little since Lillard’s absence. Scoring 26, 22 and 28 points in the last three games, the 6-foot-3 guard out of Lehigh has to do more offensively to make up for the 28.7 points per game that the team is missing.
In fairness to McCollum, he may not need to score in the high 30s for the Portland Trail Blazers to win, but they do need him to make a higher percentage of his shots. He has only made over 40 percent of his attempts from three in seven previous games. That will not help his team when they need him to step up his production.
Coach Terry Stotts will have to devise a way to free up McCollum in time for the Denver Nuggets matchup.
Portland Trail Blazers Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - CJ McCollum l Shooting Guard - Norman Powell l Small Forward - Derrick Jones Jr. l Power Forward - Robert Covington l Center - Enes Kanter
Nuggets vs Blazers Match Prediction
After a tough loss just the night before and struggling to come up with wins over the past week, the Portland Trail Blazers will be hard-pressed to stop the Denver Nuggets freight train.
Nikola Jokic has been unstoppable. The Serbian has been playing at an MVP level that few others in NBA history have matched. His dominance and leadership mean the Denver Nuggets are well-equipped to weather the challenges from other teams, including the one that the Portland Trail Blazers will present to them.
Where to Watch Nuggets vs Blazers?
The game between the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers will be shown on live television locally by Altitude Sports and NBC Sports Northwest. International audiences can watch the game via NBA League Pass.