Portland can take a commanding 2-0 series lead over Denver with a win on Monday. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire).
- After a big win on the road in Game 1, the Portland Trail Blazers are narrow underdogs against the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 on Monday (TNT, 10:00 pm ET)
- Portland’s Damian Lillard and Denver’s Nikola Jokic each scored 34 points in Game 1 and are looking to light things up again in the fifth meeting between the two teams this season
- Read below for a breakdown and a pick on the game
Game 1 between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets didn’t go the way that sportsbooks thought it would, but the odds and plays available to bettors for Game 2 are remarkably similar.
Even after winning by 14 points in Denver on Saturday night, the Nuggets are once again slight home favorites by 1.5. The two teams combined for 232 points in their first playoff matchup, four over the total of 228, but that projection was adjusted to 1.5-points lower on Monday. The expectation appears to be that a few unlikely occurrences in Game 1 won’t replicate themselves next time, but the Blazers have a great opportunity to take control of the series before it moves to Portland.
Trail Blazers vs Nuggets Odds – Game 2
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+1.5 (-110)||+100||O 226.5 (-112)|
|Denver Nuggets||-1.5 (-110)||+118||U 226.5 (-108)|
Odds as of May 23rd.
What Went Wrong for Denver?
Denver entered the series in a tough situation without its starting two guards. Jamal Murray tore his ACL in mid-April and Will Barton suffered a hamstring injury that has kept him out of commission since the end of last month.
Michael Porter Jr : 25 points (12-21 shooting & 1-10 from 3), 9 rebounds & 2 blocks in 37 minutes pic.twitter.com/rkgRl29QbQ
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) May 23, 2021
The Nuggets added Austin Rivers to the roster following his buyout from the Knicks at the trade deadline, but he was questionable with a non-COVID illness coming into Game 1 and it showed. Rivers got the start and played 33 minutes, but only made one of his five three-point attempts and only had six shots in the game. Meanwhile, Michael Porter Jr. scratched out a 25-point performance, but was ice cold from distance, making just one of his 10 shots from beyond the arc.
Following the game, Portland’s Damian Lillard noted that keeping Denver MVP candidate Nikola Jokic’s distribution down was a key factor in the win. The Blazers are far from a stout defensive side, but Jokic has averaged more than eight assists per game this season and finished with just one on Saturday. Denver also only took eight free throws for the entire game, but have averaged 21.1 at home this season.
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How did Portland Do It?
On recent form, the Blazers have been playing ahead of their season-long averages in numerous categories, but won despite underperforming in a key area.
The Blazers had allowed just 42.7 points in the paint over their last three games, but Denver was still able to drop in 52 points down low. Jokic made 8 of his 12 attempts in the key as part of a 34-point night, but Portland also made eight more threes than the Nuggets. Three of the eight players that took the floor for the Blazers in Game 1 shot 50% or better from three, and Lillard finished just under that mark after going 5-for-12.
Damian Lillard: Even when he’s covered, he’s open 🔥 pic.twitter.com/NE7AtnKC6r
— ESPN (@espn) May 23, 2021
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts needs his team to continue its sharp shooting on the road, where it has averaged scoring over 47 points from three-pointers this season. Portland guard CJ McCollum has been more decisive against Denver this season than he was in Game 1, and Porter has drained 43% of his three-point attempts at home this season. Both will surely want to turn in more efficient performances on Monday.
More of the Same?
Portland seems to have had Denver’s number as of late, but numerous fluky things contributed to the most recent lopsided result between the two. Even though Jokic still finished with 34 points to match Lillard, his contributions in other areas weren’t up to his usual output.
Many of the trends that favor Denver as a home team didn’t materialize on Saturday, but that should probably be looked at as more of the exception than the rule. The Nuggets can’t afford to head to Portland down 0-2 in the series and should expect things like their three-point shooting and opportunities at the foul line to veer back towards the mean. Both teams should come out aggressive and motivated, and the stars on both sides should lift the score over a lower projected total than their last meeting.
Pick: Over 226.5 (-112)
Nick Krueger has over a decade of experience in sports media, covering a wide range of events including two Olympic Games for Yahoo Sports. Other areas of focus for Nick throughout his career have included college football recruiting, NCAA athletics and Major League Baseball Spring Training.