The Trail Blazers received a lesson in humility on Monday when they fell to the Phoenix Suns 132-100 for their second consecutive loss after winning six straight games.
Unlike the Portland Trail Blazers, the Nuggets were at home resting on Monday. The break gave them ample time to recover from their recent road trip where they lost three of four games. They need this win to get back to winning ways.
Fixture - Portland Trail Blazers vs Denver Nuggets | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Tuesday, February 23rd, 10:00 PM ET (Wednesday, February 24th, 8:30 AM IST)
Venue - Ball Arena, Denver, CO
Portland Trail Blazers Preview
Losing to the Phoenix Suns by 32 points wasn't how the Portland Trail Blazers envisioned the first match of their three-game road trip. Regardless of how badly they lost, the Trail Blazers will have to recover quickly as they are facing a team that’s probably more desperate to win than they are.
The Portland Trail Blazers are still missing key players, which severely limits what they can do on the floor. They have an undersized bench, which they try to hide in their small-ball lineup.
Key Player - Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard nearly made it as a starter for the All-Star Game, but he will be there as a reserve.
The 30-year-old doesn’t take slights like these lightly. A day after the starters were announced, he put on a show against Washington with 35 points, 12 assists and six rebounds.
Unfortunately, the Portland Trail Blazers lost for the first time in seven outings, and their most recent defeat removed whatever momentum they had.
Lillard had 24 points and seven assists in the loss to the Phoenix Suns, but the game got out of hand in the third quarter.
If there’s anyone on the Portland Trail Blazers who can get them out of their slump, it’s Damian Lillard.
Portland Trail Blazers Predicted Lineup
G Damian Lillard G Gary Trent Jr. F Derrick Jones Jr. F Robert Covington C Enes Kanter
Denver Nuggets Preview
It has been a tiring week for the Denver Nuggets, who enter Tuesday’s contest playing their fifth game in eight days.
The 123-115 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday showed just how beat up the Nuggets were, with All-Star center Nikola Jokic managing to score only 15 points.
Any team can be beaten in this league but with a tiring schedule, a team is most likely to lose the tail end of a road trip.
Heading into the match with the Portland Trail Blazers, the Denver Nuggets will have to rely on their bench a lot more than usual even if they are playing at home.
A more balanced distribution of minutes will significantly help the Denver Nuggets’ starters in recovering from a tough week.
Key Player - Nikola Jokic
Last Sunday’s game marked just the second time this season that Nikola Jokic failed to reach the 20-point mark in consecutive contests.
Unlike the fixture prior to the Hawks matchup, Jokic had an off game, making just 5 of his 15 attempts from the field. His performance is the barometer for how well the Denver Nuggets are playing.
Jokic will be matched up with Portland Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter on both ends of the floor. Kanter has the length and size to bother Jokic but he isn’t a defensive stopper. Unless he’s double-teamed, Jokic should have his way in this head-to-head.
Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineup
G Jamal Murray G Will Barton F Michael Porter Jr. F Zeke Nnaji Jr. C Nikola Jokic
Blazers vs Nuggets Match Prediction
If the Portland Trail Blazers want to end their slide, they will have to do it ASAP. However, it will be a tough task as their opponents will be playing at home, while the Blazers will have less than 24 hours to rest and recuperate.
The Denver Nuggets are hungry for a win and will be determined to get one on their home floor. Their recent struggles can still be attributed to a couple of key players being out, but they have to start winning consistently at some point.
Jamal Murray averaged 38.3 points in his last three games and is likely going to carry this hot streak into this game. If Jokic has his way with Kanter, this game will belong to the Denver Nuggets.