The Western Conference is in the midst of an all-out war in terms of playoff seeding. The Denver Nuggets sit firmly at the top while the Trail Blazers are in the middle of all of it. Although they are currently ninth, they are only a game back from the sixth seed Clippers. There is plenty of time left to build their case, but each passing game is getting more crucial to secure victories. Can the Trail Blazers shoot up the standings with a win over the Nuggets?
Portland Trail Blazers vs Denver Nuggets Betting Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Trail Blazers as a +8.5 underdog. Bettors were quick to back them at such a high number, taking them down to as low as +7.5 as of writing in some shops. Each team is coming off of two contrasting results in their last game out with the Trail Blazers steam rolling the feisty Mavericks while the Nuggets needed a game winning shot from Jokic to get past the lowly Orlando Magic. Will recent momentum play a factor?
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points are expected to be scored in a flash by opening the total at 233.5. Bettors think elsewise, backing the under down to as low as 232.5 as of writing. The under steam comes as a surprise as both offenses are some of the most efficient units in the NBA while they are below average in defense. Especially as of recently with Denver ranking second in AdjO and Portland eighth per NBA TeamRankings.
Portland Trail Blazers vs Denver Nuggets Prediction
The Pick: Portland Trail Blazers +8
Buckle up folks, we are in for a fun one as the Trail Blazers possess enough of an offensive threat to keep this a tight one against the Nuggets. That was made apparent in their last game out, scoring 140 points against the Mavericks and snapping their losing streak. That inches them closer to getting out of the play-in tournament, a massive advantage for any NBA playoff contender.
While their defense has yet to show up this season, currently ranking 20th in AdjD, it has been their offense that has propelled them to victory. A brunt of their scoring efforts comes from their guard play with star point guard Damian Lillard running the show and Anfernee Simons playing the complementary role. While Denver’s defense has improved over their last week of play, they are still susceptible to guard production.
That shapes up nicely for the Trail Blazers as Lillard and Simons combine for 50.7 points per game and are +36% from the perimeter. If Lillard can stretch out the defense with his unlimited range, this opens up the middle for cuts and more efficient playmaking. This would help out Jerami Grant who has been a viable option, but he picks up a tough assignment with either Nikola Jokic or hyper athletic Aaron Gordon guarding him.
- Trail Blazers are 0-5 ATS in their last five meetings in Denver
- Over is 11-3 in their last 14 meetings
- Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Denver
Can the Trail Blazers slow down reigning MVP Nikola Jokic?
Nikola Jokic vs Portland interior defense
It may be too early to tell, but Nikola Jokic is well on his way as the most dominant big man of all time. He very well could win his third MVP award in a row as his play has been as crisp as ever as he leads the Nuggets to a potential first seed in the Western Conference.
He poses as a large challenge for the Trail Blazers to overcome with their weak defense. This is an area of concern for our Portland tickets, but not as detrimental as it seems. The Trail Blazers have the size to limit the looks down low, potentially stagnating Denver’s scoring output and allowing the Portland offense more ease to keep pace.
Back the Trail Blazers at +7 or higher as their guard production should keep it tight by stretching out the defense with their perimeter shooting. This would allow for more efficient secondary scoring, helping Portland keep pace until the final buzzer.
Portland Trail Blazers Starting Lineup
Denver Nuggets Starting Lineups
Portland Trail Blazers Injuries: Justise Winslow (O)
Denver Nuggets Injuries: Vlatko Cancar (D), Collin Gillespie (O), Jeff Green (O), Peyton Watson (O), Bones Hyland (D)