Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets | NBA Playoffs Predictions and Betting Tips
Denver finally looked like a team that deserves to be the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference in Game One. When they were expected to be tired after finishing off the Spurs Saturday night, they instead played some of their best basketball of the postseason. But will they be able to respond to whatever adjustments Portland makes for Game Two?
Spread: Nuggets by 3.5
Money Line: Trail Blazers +150; Nuggets -170
*Odds via BetOnline.ag
Portland Trail Blazers
When a team loses, it is easy to say they played a poor game. But that would not be the case with the Trail Blazers and Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals. Denver only got off two more shots than them (81 to79) and only made one more three-pointer. Portland won the battle of the glass (40-34). So, where did things go wrong? In a nutshell, the Trail Blazers played a sloppier game. They committed more turnovers (18 to 12), and personal fouls (24 to 22). The Nuggets had double the number of steals and did a better job of moving the ball around (assists: 22-20). Had Denver not gone to the line 31 times and made 27 of them (Portland went 20-27), the outcome could have been different. Teams are often a little sloppy after long breaks, and that may have been the case with the Trail Blazers in Game One. But now that they are back to playing every other day, they should be much more focused in Game Two.
While they were the favored team heading into Game One of the series, the Nuggets were a team that some viewed as ripe for an upset. They struggled against a San Antonio team that was much tougher than a 7-seed team typically is. But as the No. 2 seed, they should have been able to handle the Spurs better than they did. But that could have been what they needed going forward. It took the spotlight off of them a little bit and allowed them to focus on playing the best game they possibly could—and it worked. They shot well from the floor (41-81; 50.6 percent) and three-point range (12-29; 41.4 percent). While Portland’s Big Three (Lillard, Kanter, and McCollum) combined for 81 points, the rest of the Trail Blazers only had 32. While Nikola Jokic is the focal point of their offense, he wasn’t the only contributor. Three other players scored in double figures. However, going forward, they are not going to be able to count on everyone not named Damian Lillard missing as many shots as they did. If they are going to win Game Two, they will need to figure out how to get more from their bench (28 points in Game One) while not losing a step on defense.
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. But from a historical perspective, Portland leads the all-time series with 98 wins to 82 for Denver. However, Denver won seven of the last ten regular season games along with the previous 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. Denver leads the current series, 1-0.
Odds and Predictions
Expect the Trail Blazers to be much more focused in this game. Look for them to clean up a lot of the sloppy play and not make nearly as many mistakes in Game Two. Damian Lillard will still be the focus of the offense, but the rest of the team will likely play a more prominent role this time. Denver has youth on their side and has a talented squad but look for fatigue to be a factor this time. The emotion carried them from Game Seven through Game One, but now it is back to reality and another long series. Even young legs get tired. Take Portland to win (-150). If they do not win straight up, they will win against the spread (+3.5).as for the over/under (218).
Expert Betting Tip
Take the over. Portland is going to be better on offense this time around, and they don’t have enough defense to slow down the Nuggets too much. Expect the score to be similar to Game One but with Portland on top.