Tuesday night in Portland, two 9-8 teams will face off to see who can knock the other back down to .500. The Portland Trail Blazers will play hosts to the visiting Denver Nuggets. These Northwest Division foes both trail the division leading Utah Jazz (11-5) by 2.5 games. The game will hopefully feature 2 MVP worthy players in Denver’s Nikola Jokic (2020’s MVP) and Portland’s Damian Lillard. I say “hopefully” because Jokic has sat out the last 2 games with an illness and wrist injury. He is currently questionable for the Blazers game. Lillard will be good to go and will have 21.6ppg and 8.1apg averages with him.
The game will feature 2 drastically different styles of play. Denver is one of the top defensive teams in the league holding opponents to just 101.65 points per game. Portland prioritizes their offense over their defense and are 6th in the league averaging 109.88 points per game. The team that controls the style of play will likely come out the winner and take over sole 2nd place in the division.
No Joker is no jokeNikola Jokic is the reigning league MVP and he is certainly the most valuable player on the Nuggets. He has sat out the last 2 games and the Nuggets have predictably lost both games. Not only is he a triple-double threat night in and night out, he also provides the anchor to the 2nd best defense in the league. His absence was felt the most in their last contest where they faced the high scoring Suns.
Phoenix hosted the Nuggets on Sunday and dropped 126 in route to a 29pt win over the Jokic-less Nuggets. While Denver had balanced scoring seeing 6 players get to double figures, it was the defensive end that struggled and led to the eventual loss. Big man Deandre Ayton was able to take advantage of the missing Jokic on the inside. Ayton went 9-12 from the field and grabbed 8 rebounds to go along with his game high 21pts.
Dynamic duoPortland has been led by their dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum since the 2015 season when McCollum came into his own. The start of the 2021-2022 season has been no different. The duo is combining for 42ppg, 8.3rpg, and 12.5apg. Norman Powell has emerged as the 3rd option as he is averaging just shy of 17ppg.
Portland is entering this game on their 1st three game win streak of the short season. Victories over Toronto, Chicago and Philadelphia all at home have made up the win streak. In the latest win over Philadelphia, Lillard was incredible. He knocked down 5 threes, dished 7 assists and even had 3 blocks all while going for a game high 39pts. McCullum and Powell played their parts as well, combining for 35pts, 7 boards, and 7 assists. Denver will need to shut down Lillard and company if they want to avoid being the 4th straight victim of the hot Blazers.
- Portland is 6-3 ATS at home this season
- Portland is 9-4 ATS as favs this season
- Denver is 2-5 ATS on the road this season
- Denver is 1-6 ATS after a loss this season