Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets are in Portland to play the Trail Blazers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- Denver Nuggets head to Portland seeking fourth win in a row
- Trail Blazers playing second half of back-to-back after loss to Clippers Tuesday
- Get the latest Nuggets vs Trail Blazers odds, betting preview and a pick below
The Portland Trail Blazers are in a rough patch. They’re without Damian Lillard, and face the daunting task of salvaging the tail end of a back-to-back against fiery-hot Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
After dropping Tuesday night’s tough 113-112 contest to the Clippers, they’re uncomfortably close to falling out of a locked-in playoff spot and into the play-in.
Denver, meanwhile, has found its footing minus Jamal Murray, reeling off three wins in a row. They’re a 5-point road favorite in this one.
Nuggets vs Trail Blazers Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Denver Nuggets||-5 (-110)||-210||TBD|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+5 (-110)||+176||TBD|
Odds as of April 20. Tip-off is Wednesday at 10pm ET
Nikola is Nice
While there are still concerns about how Denver will fare in the playoffs without Jamal Murray, for now, they’re in great hands with Nikola Jokic. It’s hard to headline when Steph Curry is going supernova, but the big man put in another MVP-worthy performance in a double-OT win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Jokic (47 PTS, 15 REB, 8 AST) had himself a night ♨️ pic.twitter.com/SB9jdeojFN
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 20, 2021
Jokic finished with 47 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists, carrying his club with clutch buckets in winning time. Denver also got big contributions from Will Barton, who dropped a season-high 28 points, along with seven assists, six rebounds, and five hits from downtown.
Michael Porter Jr, who is emerging as a budding star and key component to this team, chipped in with 21.
I thought Michael Porter Jr. had one of his best defensive games of the season in the #Nuggets win last night — in particular in rotation. He was attentive and on-time in help defensive concepts, and held up in some on-ball situations as well. This is a mashup of what I saw. pic.twitter.com/R8xppJT12v
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) April 15, 2021
The formula against the Blazers Wednesday is simple: bend their defense and get to the hoop. Even with a dominant big, Denver doesn’t live in the painted area (who does these days?), but they are efficient at the tin, with the third-best shooting percentage in that area at 67.8%.
Portland’s defense is among the worst in basketball, and especially inside, where they allow the fourth-highest frequency of shots from four feet. A smart and explosive team like the Nuggets, who rank third in offensive efficiency and fourth in scoring, should hammer at that weakness.
Lost Without Lillard
Still bothered by a sore right hamstring, Damian Lillard could miss his fourth straight game Wednesday. At 32-25, Portland sits in sixth with the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies on their tails in the West. They’ve been on a 3-7 slide in their last 10.
Damian Lillard (right hamstring, tendinopathy), who will sit out for his 3rd straight game, getting shots up ahead of Tuesday’s Blazers-Clippers game.
Coach Stotts says there’s no update on Lillard’s hamstring pic.twitter.com/PT6YqWAlRY
— Jamie Hudson (@JamieHudsonNBCS) April 21, 2021
The glaring issue with Portland is the defensive side, where they carry second-worst rating in the league ahead of only the lowly Sacramento Kings — and that’s with Lillard in the lineup.
The Blazers do boast the sixth-best offensive rating in the NBA, seemingly outscoring their problems. But the last three games without Dame Time, they’ve cracked 110 points just once. That’s trouble when surrendering 114.7 a night — which ranks 25th in the NBA.
👏 @CJMcCollum (29 PTS, 6 AST) and the @trailblazers outlast San Antonio on the road! #RipCity pic.twitter.com/mvuGC50BVI
— NBA (@NBA) April 17, 2021
Jusuf Nurkic, who missed Tuesday’s game against the Clippers for rest, will be in the lineup to battle his ex-teammate Jokic, while the Blazers will rely on CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony to carry the load. CJ went for 28 points, five rebounds and five assists against LA, while Anthony had 18 off the bench, including three 3-pointers.
Norm Powell has been a nice addition to the roster. The ex-Raptor is putting 17.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 33+ minutes a night. He had 23 on 10-for-20 shooting Tuesday night.
2021 NBA Eastern and Western Conference Odds Tracker
What’s the Best Bet?
The Nuggets are living up to their top-4 West billing. They’re 20-12 in the conference, 17-10 on the road, and 8-2 in their last 10.
With the ability to score at will against a porous defensive side, it’s going to take some kind of scoring show for Portland to pull this one out.
Denver will have to watch out for the three-point shot: the Blazers are one of two teams averaging better than 40 attempts from deep per game. They also hit at a sharp 37.8% rate – good for seventh-best in the NBA.
But after going 14-for-44 (31.8%) in their loss to the Clips, and on zero days rest, I’m not overthinking this one.
The pick: Nuggets -5 (-110)
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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.