Portland Trail Blazers vs.Denver Nuggets
Portland. Moda Center Arena. 28.05.2021.
The Blazers were able to take away one win from Denver, and they are now considered the favorites in the series. Bookmakers believe that Portland will take the lead at the end of Game 3, while losing to Denver at home this season. The bookmakers underestimate the Nuggets, and they should take advantage of that.
Portland current form
The Blazers reached the Western Conference Finals the season before last, and the club has been trying to step up ever since. It's not working out so far, and during this regular season there were already rumors about the possible resignation of Terry Stotts and the exchange of Damian Lillard. Nevertheless, Portland somehow climbed into 6th place in the Western Conference with 11 wins in their last 15 games. The team has gained some depth, but it still seems imaginary. Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter are slumping hard defensively, and they need to hit well to be playoff pluses. Anfernee Simons occasionally shoots, Derrick Jones is weak on offense, and in fact the Blazers don't have many performers outside of the starting five for postseason games. Zach Collins is still in the infirmary, and it's not certain he'll play at all this season.
In game 1 against Denver Terry Stotts's team snatched victory in the end, but in the return game they had no chance - 109-128. Portland trailed from the very first minute and only Lillard kept the team in the game with his steady shooting from beyond the arc. In contrast to the game before that Carmelo Anthony was weak on the shot clock and Jusuf Nurkic was less effective. Lillard stopped flying in the 2nd half and ended up with 42 points. McCollum looked decent as well, hitting 9 of 12 shots from the field and scoring 21 points.
Denver current form
The Nuggets' biggest problem heading into the playoffs was the absence of Jamal Murray: the star point guard is out for the rest of the season. Even with his absence, however, Denver climbed to 3rd place in the Western Conference and that success was no fluke. Losing Murray doesn't look as critical, though, as Michael Porter, who is easier to hide on defense, can play more time now. Facundo Campazzo hasn't lost any efficiency in big-game minutes, Aaron Gordon has strengthened the team's defense, and Paul Millsap is more useful when coming off the bench. In addition, Nikola Jokic is in incredible shape: he's consistently hitting from beyond the arc, pushing his guards in the post, shooting from mid-range and even doing well in the passing game. Denver has a stable rotation of 8-9 guys, and Will Barton can help bolster it. He hasn't recovered from his injury yet, but plans to return as the series with Portland progresses. P.J. Dozier is also in the infirmary.
Last game against the Blazers, Michael Malone's men were a bit more organized on defense, while also cracking down on defense. Nikola Jokic made 15 of 20 shots from the field, playing with nearly his entire offensive arsenal. "The Nuggets were good on the fast break and converted 10 offensive rebounds into 19 points. In the 2nd half, Aaron Gordon defended well against Lillard to extend the lead to 20 points.
Expert Betting Tips
Portland played well on offense in the last two games and got a lot of shots from beyond the arc, but what happens if it doesn't fly is a big question. Michael Malone appears to have found a way to neutralize Lillard, and Denver has been moving the ball better since Game 1. The Blazers are having trouble shutting down Jokic, who if he gets too much tutelage, he may fade into the sidelines and help out his teammates. Many Nuggets players can improve on offense - Porter, meanwhile, shot just 5-of-13 from the field, while shooting over half of his shots on the season. I would suggest betting on the following outcomes:
- Denver will pass to the next stage at odds of 2.34
- Total points over 227.5 at odds 1.88