The second round series between Portland and Denver has been quite competitive, as the teams are now tied at 2-2. Tonight makes for a pivotal Game 5, with whoever emerges victorious assuming a controlling position in the series. Game 5 is played in Denver, although Portland did win Game 2 here. Will it be Lillard and the Blazers or Jokic and the Nuggets?

[3] Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) @ [2] Denver Nuggets (2-2)

After an outstanding performance in Game 3, the Blazers looked to be in a perfect position to take full control of the series. Denver was having none of that though, and responded with a close 116-112 victory in Game 4 to tie the series. Facing a decisive Game 5, who comes out on top?

Portland

The Blazers quietly have one of the best backcourts in the entire league, and it is certainly showing here in this series. Between Lillard and McCollum, there is plenty of shooting and distributing to go around. What continues to hurt Portland is their lack of a reliable answer to Nikola Jokic. If Kanter can’t at least match his production offensively, the Blazers really struggle to keep up with Denver.

 

  • Portland needs to cut down on turnovers. They had 14 last game to just 8 from Denver.
  • Enes Kanter didn’t apply enough pressure in Game 4, finishing with just 5 points and 10 rebounds on 2-5 shooting.
  • Lillard and McCollum combined for 57 points and 8 assists on 19-42 shooting from the field and 6-15 from beyond the arc.
  • Solid production from the bench with 27 points, compared to 23 from the Nuggets.

Denver

When Jamal Murray plays well in the playoffs, the Nuggets win. Game 4 was no different, as Murray finished with 34 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. More importantly, he shot 10-20 from the field and went 11-11 from the charity stripe, including clutch free throws to ice the game. If the Nuggets want to win here tonight, they’ll need another big game from Jamal.

 

  • Second chance opportunities were huge for the Nuggets in Game 4, as they collected 17 offensive boards and shot 10 more field goals than Portland.
  • Denver also ran their offense quite well, finishing with 21 assists and just 8 turnovers as a team.
  • Paul Millsap had another great game, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds on a cool 6-10 shooting.
  • Jokic had another triple double with 21 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, but more importantly led the game with a plus-minus score of +17.

Pick: Denver Nuggets -4.5

Considering how close this series has been so far, it really is a shame that Jusuf Nurkic is unable to play. Whoever wins Game 5 is likely to win the series, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the loser is without a chance. The role players for Denver tend to play much better at home, and it appears that the Nuggets are the better team when they’re on their game. Jokic has consistently been fantastic, but the play of Jamal Murray ultimately determines their success. Games have been anything but easy to pick in these playoffs so far, but tonight the odds certainly favor the Nuggets. Expect Denver to win tonight.

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