Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets
Monday 10:30 P.M. ET
Free NBA Pick: Blazers ATS
Best Line Offered: Pinnacle
There is no rest for the weary. The Denver Nuggets just finished an extensive, hard-fought series against the San Antonio Spurs. Less than 48 hours later, they have to flip the switch and play the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference semifinals.
Denver survived an intense Game 7 on Saturday night to advance past the first round for the first time in 10 years. It was the first Game 7 win for the organization since 1978 and the first winner-take-all victory in the playoffs since the Nuggets as an eighth seed beat No. 1 Seattle in Game 5 in the first round of the playoffs.
Denver’s quest to reach the Western Conference finals begins Monday at home against the rested and confident Trail Blazers.
Lillard is coming off a career moment against Oklahoma City. He drained a near halfcourt 3-pointer at the buzzer of Game 5 to give Portland a 118-115 win and eliminate the Thunder. Lillard averaged 33 points a game against Oklahoma City and punctuated it with that series-clinching 3-pointer that gave him 50 points for the game.
His backcourt partner, CJ McCollum, averaged 24.4 points in the first round.
The Nuggets fared well against the Trail Blazers in the regular season. They won three of the four matchups, and in the game they lost, they rested Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
Denver will be a tired team compared with Portland, but it will at least be healthier. The Trail Blazers lost center Jusuf Nurkic for the season late in the year and Enes Kanter, signed after he was waived by New York after the trade deadline in February, is hurting.
Kanter suffered a left shoulder separation in the Game 5 win over Oklahoma City. If Kanter is compromised, it leaves second-year center Zach Collins dealing with Denver’s Jokic. The All-Star had an impressive playoff debut, averaging 23.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 9.1 assists against San Antonio. He had two triple-doubles in the series.
The Blazers have been fairly decent on the road this season going 22-20 ATS during the regular season. If they can get another strong series from their star, Damian Lillard, then they should be in good shape against the point guard deprived Nuggets.