Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets | NBA Playoffs Predictions and Betting Tips
Neither team had it easy in the first round, but the Denver Nuggets definitely had to work a lot harder to get past the San Antonio Spurs. Is one day off going to be enough for them to recover physically and mentally from a very tough series? Will Damian Lillard be able to keep up his torrid pace against the Nuggets?
Spread: Nuggets by 3.5
Money Line: Trail Blazers +135; Nuggets -155
*Odds via BetOnline.ag
Portland Trail Blazers
Few believed in the Trail Blazers in the first round; many thought the star power of Russell Westbrook and Paul George would be too much for Portland to handle. But they proved them all wrong by taking down the Thunder in just five games. A major tool to that end was the three-pointer. In the first round, the Trail Blazers led the NBA in percent made (40.5) and was second in number made (12.8; Houston was first). Damian Lillard, who led the team with 33 points a game, averaged over five a game and hit 48.1 percent of his attempts. While they shot quite well on the perimeter, the Trail Blazers were active in the paint as well with 33.8 shots per game coming within the paint. They made just 51.5 percent of those shots, the lowest in the playoffs next to Detroit. Denver is a lot better at defending the perimeter than Oklahoma City, so the Trail Blazers will find a lot tougher to have similar success in the semifinals. But they will need to figure out how to do so if they are going to beat the Nuggets.
Denver was not supposed to struggle that much against the San Antonio Spurs. But Gregg Popovich was not about to go down without a fight. But some would say their struggles against the Spurs were not surprising at all considering how the Nuggets limped to the finish line during the regular season (5-5). However, while it hasn’t always been pretty, the Nuggets did what it took to finish as the No. 2 seed, and they beat the Spurs. Now, it is on to a new series and essentially a fresh start. But where the Nuggets may run into trouble is their reliance on Nikola Jokic. He led the Nuggets in to of the three major statistical categories (points, rebounds, and assists) in every game against the Spurs. If Enes Kanter is unable to go in Game One, fans can expect the Nuggets to feed Jokic all day long inside. The Nuggets are going to need their defense to cool down a confident Trail Blazers team early on. If they let Portland heat up, they may not be able to cool them down. With how their offense has been playing lately, they do not want this turning into a shootout.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets Head-to-Head
The Nuggets won the regular season series against the Trail Blazers taking three of the four games they played. However, the first one, back in November was only by a point; the second one, in January, had just a three-point margin of victory. But they won the third one, in April, by nine points. Portland won the fourth one two days later by seven points. From a historical perspective, Portland leads the all-time series with 98 wins to 82 for Denver. But Denver has won seven of the last ten, and five in a row at home. They have met twice before in the postseason with each team winning one series (Portland won the Western Conference Semifinals, 4-2, back in 1977; Denver beat Portland in the first round in 1986, 3-1) and a total of five games between the two.
Odds and Predictions
Look for Denver to be a little weary to start the game. They will have only had a single day off while the Trail Blazers have had plenty of rest. Portland will likely try to keep the tempo of the game high to take advantage of that. Plus, Jokic makes his most significant impact as a half court player. He does not do as well in transition. The Nuggets may be able to lessen the impact Portland’s perimeter game has on the outcome. But with how Denver played on offense against the Spurs, it is not hard to imagine the Trail Blazers simply outscoring the Nuggets. Take the Trail Blazers to win (+135). If they do not win straight up, they will win against the spread (+3.5). As for the over/under (216.5).
Expert Betting Tip
It is not hard to imagine the Trail Blazers doing their part, but Denver has been struggling on the scoreboard. Take the under.