Can Damian Lillard summon another monster effort to keep the Blazers alive in Game 6 against the Denver Nuggets Thursday night? (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Denver Nuggets look to wrap up their first round series with the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6
- Portland’s Damian Lillard dropped 55 points and NBA Playoff-record 12 threes in 2OT loss in Game 5
- We look at the odds, offer analysis and our betting prediction below
Game 5 between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets was an instant classic.
It also has the Nuggets on the brink of sending the Blazers packing via a first round exit for the second year in a row, as the venue shifts to the Pacific Northwest in a do-or-die Game 6 for Portland.
Despite a demoralizing Game 5 double-OT loss — where Damian Lillard put up 55 points in one of the elite shooting performances ever — oddsmakers think there’s some bounce-back ability from the home team, listing the Blazers as 5-point favorites Thursday night.
Nuggets vs Trail Blazers Game 6 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Denver Nuggets||+5 (-110)||+176||Ov 227.5 (-110)|
|Portland Trail Blazers||-5 (-110)||-210||Un 227.5 (-110)|
Odds as of June 2. Tip-off is Thursday at 8pm ET
Aside from the usual out-for-the-year players — Portland’s Zach Collins and Denver’s Jamal Murray — the two Nuggets Mike Malone hoped would get back to the lineup at some point in this series won’t be available for Game 6. Will Barton is still battling a nagging hamstring injury, while PJ Dozier is dealing with an adductor strain.
Nuggets vs Trail Blazers Projected Starting Lineups
|Facundo Campazzo||PG||Damian Lillard|
|Austin Rivers||SG||CJ McCollum|
|Michael Porter Jr||SF||Norman Powell|
|Aaron Gordon||PF||Robert Covington|
|Nikola Jokic||C||Jusuf Nurkic|
Someone Help Dame
It’s a performance that many people are still talking about, and will speak about for a long time. Damian Lillard was a wrecking ball against Denver in Game 5, hitting big shot after big shot to keep his team in it, pushing it to OT and double OT with game-tying, and mind-blowing triples.
He finished with 12 threes, part of a surreal 17-for-24 performance for the double-nickel, to go along with 10 assists and six rebounds.
55 PTS (Playoff Career-High)
12 3PT (Playoff Record)
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 2, 2021
If he had just a little bit of help, the Blazers would be returning home with a chance to wrap up this series. The rest of the Blazers’ roster went 1-for-14 from the field in overtime for two points.
They included brutal misses — including a dunk attempt by Robert Covington that went awry — and a back-breaking turnover by CJ McCollum, stepping out of bounds with less than 10 seconds left in the game and the Blazers down three.
Dame having a generational performance:
Robert Covington and CJ McCollum: LOL sorry bro pic.twitter.com/Ri4BYL1cdj
— Tony Clements (@TonyClementsTC) June 2, 2021
Perhaps it’s also as simple as Jusuf Nurkic staying on the floor to match up with Nikola Jokic. Nurkic fouled out again Tuesday night, the third time he’s done that in the series — and they’ve all ended in losses. Without him, the Blazers were a mess trying to find a way to contain Jokic, with Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony and Covington all in decided mismatches with the MVP-in-waiting.
Jokic Holds Steady
It wasn’t his best shooting night, but Jokic was still stuffing the stat sheet, going 14-for-31 from the field en route to 38 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks and a steal. The main difference was his supporting cast that rose to the occasion to support the nuclear attack of Lillard.
Nikola Jokic (38 PTS, 11 REB, 9 AST) fills up the stat sheet in the @nuggets thrilling Game 5 win!
With DEN leading the series 3-2, Game 6 is Thursday at 8pm/et on TNT. #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/rxAOgo9WYp
— NBA (@NBA) June 2, 2021
The outlier performance was from reserve Monte Morris, who poured in a career-high 28 points and five assists and found his way to the stripe 11 times. His previous playoff high was 14 points. Jokic and Morris potted 16 of his Denver’s 26 points over two overtimes.
Jokic cross-court skip pass, out of a double team, perfectly dropped over Covington, which may ultimately be the game-winnerpic.twitter.com/90Bo2HWG4C
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) June 2, 2021
Michael Porter Jr was also huge, dropping 26 points, none bigger than a corner three deftly set up by Jokic to take the lead for good, late in the second overtime period. Porter Jr also had 12 boards and two steals.
And Austin River continues to shine after being picked up off the scrap heap. The journeyman had 18 points and seven dimes in 47 minutes of work. He also went 4-for-8 from downtown.
What’s the Best Bet?
After a deflating loss, does Dame have anything left to bring this back to Denver? They’re 18-10 as home favorites straight up, and 19-13 after a loss. Denver is just 5-7 as road underdogs.
The obvious wager here is the over. Both teams are seriously challenged defensively, with a team being held under 109 points just once in this series. Portland’s 120.4 series average and Denver’s 119.8 clip would have them in the top and third spots in scoring in the regular season. They’ve blown by the set total in four of the five games.
I’m inclined to believe the Nuggets’ lack of perimeter shot creation will eventually catch up to them, and Rivers eventually returns back to earth after an impressive run. Expect the Blazers to pick up their superstar, and take this one to the Game 7 everyone knows is coming.
Pick: Blazers ML (-210)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.