Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets
Wednesday 9:00 P.M. ET
Free NBA Pick of the Day: Blazers ATS
Recommended Sportsbook: Bovada
The Denver Nuggets were in control throughout the majority of their Game 1 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite having less than 48 hours to prepare for a Portland team that presents a completely different matchup than the San Antonio Spurs, Denver did a good job containing Portland’s supporting cast in the 121-113 win.
The good news for the Portland Trail Blazers is that Enes Kanter played well despite a shoulder injury. The bad news is it didn’t matter against the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series Monday night.
Kanter was questionable after getting hurt in the series finale against Oklahoma City on April 23 but he looked fine in scoring 26 points Monday. He made 11 of 14 shots and pulled down seven rebounds in 33 minutes in Portland’s 121-113 loss.
The Trail Blazers are going to need more than Kanter, and Damian Lillard, to beat the host Nuggets in Game 2 on Wednesday night. Lillard had a game-high 39 points in Monday’s loss but Denver contained the rest of the Blazers. The Nuggets also forced 18 turnovers, six by Lillard.
Portland had 56 points in the paint and outrebounded Denver 40-34 in Game 1, which played a key role in allowing Portland to get back into the game in the second half. Enes Kanter scored 26 points on 11-of-14 from the field despite dealing with a separated shoulder and Portland finished with 15 second-chance points. Denver had success guarding most of Portland’s role players on the perimeter, but inside defense will be important moving forward.
So did Nikola Jokic, who continued his impressive playoff debut. The Denver center had 37 points and nine rebounds and made 11 of his 18 shots. He was also perfect on 12 free-throw attempts.
That could be the case in Game 2, but Portland needs more scoring from other players. CJ McCollum had 16 and Rodney Hood added 17 off the bench, but no other player scored more than four points. The Blazers will need a much more balanced attack from their role players if they want to be able to compete with the Nuggets on the road. The Blazers are getting four points on the spread, but have a good chance of pulling off the upset in general to even up the series.