A REMATCH OF A MEMORABLE PLAYOFF DUEL
In Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinals series this past season, the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets engaged in one of the best back-and-forths in recent memory. The Blazers needed four extra periods to earn a 140-137 win – a match-up they eventually won, 4-2.
DIFFERENT BUILD, SAME OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
The two are almost on the opposite side of the spectrum in terms of how the player hierarchy is set.
For the Blazers, it has been the Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum show for quite some time now, as the backcourt is consistently among the top scoring duos in the NBA. Lillard has averaged over 25 points per game in the last four seasons (and over 20 in the last seven); McCollum, on the other hand, is posting 21.6 PPG since breaking out in the 2015-16 season.
For the Nuggets, though the main partners in crime are All-Stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, it’s still a free-flowing offense more than anything. This past year, seven different players averaged points in double-digits – Murray, Jokic, Paul Millsap, Will Barton, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, and Malik Beasley.
Even with all the glaring differences, there are similarities in how efficient they can be in putting numbers in the scoreboard and how dangerous their offensive attacks really are. For one, both are inside the top six in Basketball-reference.com’s offensive rating column in the 2018-19 season – it’s extra notable on the Nuggets’ side considering they are only 20th in scoring at 110.7 PPG.
WHO COMES OUT ON TOP?
Expect the visiting Nuggets to come out and try to outgun the Blazers right from the tip. With Lillard and McCollum likely to sit out most of the game, it’s a good day to trust the Nuggets’ much balanced offense.
Michael Porter Jr., the injury-plagued lottery pick of the Nuggets who missed all of his supposed rookie year this past season, is someone to watch out for.