Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Preview
In a Northwest Division matchup tonight, the division-leading Denver Nuggets host the Portland Trail Blazers, who are last in the division.
The Nuggets are 14-8 on the season and are fifth in the Western Conference. They’ve lost their last three games entering tonight’s matchup and are 5-5 in their last 10 games, however, they are 8-3 at home in Denver. The Blazers are 11th in the Western Conference with a 10-15 record. They won their last game, are also 5-5 in their last 10 games and 5-9 on the road.
In their first matchup this season, the Nuggets topped the Blazers late in October. Nikola Jokic led Denver with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Damian Lillard had 32 points and eight assists.
Time: 10:30 PM ET
Arena: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Blazers: Jusuf Nurkic, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins (O)
Nuggets: Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap (Q)
Portland Trail Blazers Starting Lineup
Trail Blazers Analysis
The Portland Trail Blazers ended a two-game skid on Tuesday night with a 115-87 blowout of the New York Knicks.
Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 31 points. Hassan Whiteside had 17 points and 15 rebounds, and on occasion head coach Terry Stots played Whiteside with reserve big man Skal Labissiere.
“We’ve struggled to rebound the ball, so having those two guys out there, if it can work, why not?” Lillard said. “Me, CJ and (Anthony), our minutes this year together have been positive for the team, so why not? He was just rolling it out there and seeing how it would go.”
Aside from Lillard and Whiteside, Carmelo Anthony had 16 points, CJ McCollum finished with 13 points and Anfernee Simons came off the bench for 16 points.
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineup
The Nuggets struggled on their East Coast road trip, losing to the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
On Tuesday night, they had their third straight defeat in a 97-92 loss to the 76ers, where they allowed 53 points to the 76ers frontcourt of Joel Embiid, Al Horford and Tobias Harris.
“Right now, the biggest thing for us is, can we guard the paint?” Malone said. “Not just because we’re coming off of 66 (inside points) that we allowed in Brooklyn. Last five games, by far the worst thing we’re doing on defense is allowing 55 points a night in the paint.”
A team that has a frontcourt that features Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap would not be one you would think would struggle with interior defense.
While the Nuggets limited starters Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson and allowed just 14 fourth-quarter points, they struggled themselves in the fourth and did not do enough to pull out the win.
Jokic had 15 points and 11 assists, but the Nuggets were led by 26 points. Jamal Murray played just five minutes before being sidelined and he is questionable for tonight’s game.
Key Player Matchups
Damian Lillard vs. Jamal Murray
If Murray plays, he’ll be coming back for a tough matchup against one of the most potent shooting point guards in the NBA. Murray and Lillard know each other well, not only from playing each other four times during the regular season over the years but also because they matched up in the second round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
Hassan Whiteside vs. Nikola Jokic
Jokic is such a tough cover for most traditional centers because he’s capable of sitting outside and hitting threes and he can be very dominant down low. Whiteside is most effective in defending in the paint and he’s been having a bit of a career resurgence in Portland. He’s averaging 15.4 points, 12.5 assists and 2.4 blocks per game.
Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard are standout players in tonight’s matchup on TNT. Jokic is available for $9k and he is projected for 44.8 fantasy points tonight. Lillard has a salary of $8.5k and is projected to finish with 40.9 points.
Will Barton is a solid value option with a $6.3k salary and a projection of 32.2 points. Carmelo Anthony is also a safe bet with a $5.8k salary and a projection of 28.4 points.
Bet on Matchup
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