NBA 2018-19: 3 reasons why the Portland Trail Blazers can eliminate the Denver Nuggets
- Could Damian Lillard lead the Blazers to the Conference finals?
After getting swept in the first round of the playoffs for two straight seasons, Portland got past this year around via a 4-1 series win over rivals OKC. Denver got rid of San Antonio in seven games in what was their first playoff series win since the days when Melo used to don a Nuggets jersey.
Within 48 hours of eliminating the Spurs, Mike Malone and his Nuggets were ready to face off Lillard's Trail Blazers for Game 1 of the West semis. What transpired rather came as a shock considering the grind Denver had just been through for a gruelling seven-game bout. The Nuggets stole game 1 at home 121-113 over the Blazers and took a 1-0 lead heading into the second matchup.
"I thought our guys did a really good job responding after Game 7," Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. "Jamal, Nikola, Paul were terrific, while guys off the bench like Malik and Mason really stepped up. I'm proud of our guys for showing up."
Although both of these teams haven't had deep playoff runs lately, there seems to be no shortage of talent on both sides to make one this year. However, it seems timely to focus on the fact that the Trail Blazers just might be going for gold this year, and that the Nuggets could very well be just another obstacle.
In this piece, we'll follow up on a fairly unpopular opinion which sheds light on the possibility of Portland eliminating the West's 2nd seed as the series progresses, so let's get to it.
#1 Denver Nuggets do not look like a playoff-ready team
In a first-round matchup between the 2nd and 7th seed, nobody really expects the series to stretch long enough for a Game 7. But, the San Antonio Spurs - who finished 6 games behind Denver on the West leaderboard - made sure it was not a cakewalk for the West's second best team. In fact, it went all the way down to a one-legged floater by Jamal Murray in the final seconds of the game to get rid of the pesky Spurs.
The NBA postseason is relentless. So one doesn't really get the time and headspace to actually analyse the dynamics of one series before the next one kicks off. Hence, nobody could really pay much heed to the fact that the Ginobili-less Spurs could drag the Finals contenders of this year all the way to the last minute of Game 7 in the first round itself.
But as the name of the game goes, here we are.