This is a rematch of the conference semi-finals from last season. The Blazers won in seven games over the Nuggets to clinch a spot in the Western Conference Finals. It was a disappointing end to a magical season for the Nuggets and they want revenge.
Nuggets vs. Blazers Preview
On paper, both sides got better in the offseason. The Blazers traded for Hassan Whiteside to play down low. This was one of the underrated moves of the offseason as Whiteside needed a change of scenery and he got one that he wanted.
“I want to come in and make a statement,” Whiteside said following Tuesday’s practice. “I feel like it’s a fresh start. It’s a team that I wanted to come to in the past and that I’ve always admired from afar. … It’s just a team that I really could connect to.”
The Nuggets are hoping to get Michael Porter Jr. back this season. He missed all of last season with an injury. Porter Jr. was viewed as one of the top picks in the 2018 NBA Draft but his injury concerns allowed him to fall to Denver. The Nuggets scooped him up knowing his potential.
The West is full of incredible duos and these two teams have some of the best. Damian Lillard inked a five-year, $196 million contract extension to remain in Portland. This contract will take begin in 2021 and will pay Lillard upwards of $50 million per year. His partner CJ McCollum also signed a huge contract extension for three-years, $100 million.
In Denver, the Nuggets have put together two stars of their own. Nikola Jokic has turned into a big who can do it all. In 2018, Jokic averaged 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.2 assists. The Nuggets have the point guard-big man duo locked with Jamal Murray running the show. Murray took the next step as a scorer last season posting 18.2 points per game.
Nuggets vs. Blazers Pick & Prediction
This is just another Western Conference game that viewers on the East coast will have to stay up late for. The Nuggets and Blazers will play for the first time since game seven of the Western Conference Semi-Finals from a season ago.
Anything can happen in a series which we saw in 2018, but heading into 2019, the Nuggets are the better team. They have the potential to finish as one of the top three teams in the West. For the Blazers, they are trying to get back into the playoffs and pull off another magical run.
Despite the home court advantage, Portland will be tested mightily in this game. The Nuggets have revenge on their minds. They have not forgotten how they were eliminated last season and that will add extra fire to their game. The Blazers are 1.5-point favorites at home in this one but take the Nuggets and dabble on the moneyline.
PICK: Nuggets ML (+100)
SCORE PREDICTION: Nuggets 118, Blazers 110