The daily preview takes it to the rim with NBA tips for the second showdown between Western Conference rivals Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers in less than a fortnight.
14:00 (AEDT), Wed 24th Nov @ Moda Center, Portland
History: Played 211: Trail Blazers 111 V Nuggets 100
Last meeting: November 14, 2021: Nuggets 124 d Trail Blazers 95 at Ball Arena
Final Thoughts: Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets are seventh and eighth in the Western Conference standings, respectively, with identical 9-8 records. But the Blazers are on a season-best best three-game winning streak, while the Nuggets are currently on a four-game losing streak for the first time since November 2018.
The contrasting runs commenced after the teams’ clash in Denver nine days ago. The Nuggets cruised to a 124-95 win with Nikola Jokic (287 pts, 9 reb, 9 ast) in a dominant mood and PJ Dozier and Bones Hyland combining for eight three-pointers from the bench. CJ McCollum (21 pts) top-scored for the Damian Lillard-less Trail Blazers.
But it’s been all downhill for the Nuggets since, losing to the Mavericks, 76ers, Bulls and Suns by an average margin of 15.5 points. Jokic missed the 126-97 blowout at the hands of the Suns; Aaron Gordon (16 pts, 10 reb), Jeff Green (19 pts) and JaMychal Green (14 pts, 8 reb) tried in vain to pick up the slack. The reigning MVP is listed as questionable for today’s fixture.
Michael Porter Jr (back) is also now in the casualty ward alongside long-term absentee Jamal Murray.
Lillard, Blazers find groove
The Blazers, meanwhile, are enjoying an upswing after an ultra-patchy start to the season. They have carved out three straight hard-fought home wins over the Raptors (118-113), Bulls (112-107) and 76ers (118-111). McCollum is averaging over 20 points and Jusuf Nurkic is second in the NBA for rebounds per game with 11.2.
But the most encouraging sign to emerge for Portland has been Lillard’s form surge after an indifferent start to the campaign. ‘Dame’ was named Western Conference Player of the Week after shining in all three victories, including a season-high 39 points against the Sixers.
Despite their overall inconsistency, the Trail Blazers are 8-1 at home this season (6-3 against the start). The Nuggets are just 2-5 on the road overall and ATS, losing their last four away from Denver.
With Jokic’s support cast in the Nuggets line-up looking worryingly thin – if the Serbian big man plays at all – and a revitalised Lillard sparking the Blazers, this is shaping as a fourth straight W for the hosts.
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