Portland (0-0) at Denver (0-0)
When: Monday, April 29th, 2019
Where: Pepsi Center,
Time: 10:30 ET | TV: TNT
Opening Odds: Denver -3.5/216.5
The Denver Nuggets only have one day off after their tough seven-game series with the San Antonio Spurs before they face an even tougher opponent Monday. The Portland Trail Blazers come to Pepsi Center for Game 1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with the Nuggets riding a lot of momentum. The Blazers took care of the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games thanks to the brilliant play of guard Damian Lillard. He torched Oklahoma City for 33.0 points per game on 46.1 percent shooting including 48.1 percent from beyond the arc and a 37-foot buzzer-beater to end the series in Game 5. The Nuggets were able to successfully contain Portland’s superstar guard in the regular season as he averaged just 21.3 points per game on 37.1 percent shooting. One issue for Portland entering the second round is their frontcourt health. They have already lost starting center Jusuf Nurkic (15.6 points, 10.4 rebounds) for the season and now backup Enes Kanter, who was injured in the Game 5 win over the Thunder, is iffy for Monday’s opener. Denver is clearly led by center Nikola Jokic, who averaged nearly a triple-double (23.1 points, 12.1 rebounds, 9.1 assists) in the seven games versus San Antonio in the first round. The Nuggets took three of the four regular season matchups with Portland, but all were decided by fewer than 10 points. The best of the four came back on January 13th in which the game featured 19 lead changes and 14 ties. Portland’s lone win came in the final week of the regular season in a game that Jokic, Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap did not play for the Nuggets. This is the third playoff series between the Nuggets and Blazers. In 1977 Portland defeated Denver in six games in the Western Conference Semifinals then Denver beat the Blazers in four games (five-game series) in the first round of the 1986 playoffs.
The Portland scoring in the first round came primarily as it usually does, from their guard tandem of Lillard and CJ McCollum, who is a distant second to Lillard at 24.4 points in the postseason. The Blazers as a team have shot well from long range, hitting 40.5 percent from 3-point territory – tops in the league for the postseason. Backup guard Seth Curry has yet to reach double-digits this postseason, but has nailed 41 percent of his 3-point attempts (9-for-22) to provide a spark. Portland’s best rebounding option should Kanter be unable to go would be Maurice Harkless, who averaged 8.5 rebounds in the final two games of the first round, while averaging 16 points.
A nice compliment to Jokic’s game has been point guard Jamal Murray, who was inconsistent in the first round but came through with a team-high 23 points in the Game 7 clincher. In Game 1, Murray shot just 8-of-24 from the floor while missing all six of his 3-point attempts and did not record an assist on 73 touches. In Game 2, he went 0-8 from the field over the first three quarters before erupting for 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting in the fourth quarter. Shooting guard Gary Harris averaged 14.7 points on 48.7 percent shooting in the first round. In the most recent matchup against Portland, Harris and Torrey Craig combined to hold Lillard to 2-of-8.
This should be a very entertaining series with the home team having the advantage. Remember, Denver finished one-game ahead of Portland in the standings and the season series went a long way to deciding who had homecourt. Lillard and McCollum will get their points, but not like they did against the Thunder. Denver plays a little better defense and should be able to take Game 1 on Monday.
Pick: Nuggets -4
Trail Blazers are 16-5 ATS in their last 21 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
Trail Blazers are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a ATS loss.
Trail Blazers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.
Trail Blazers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 Conference Semifinals games.
Trail Blazers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
Nuggets are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 Conference Semifinals games.
Nuggets are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
Nuggets are 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 vs. NBA Northwest.
Nuggets are 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games following a straight up win.
Nuggets are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Nuggets are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.
Nuggets are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 1 days rest.
Over is 4-0 in Trail Blazers last 4 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
Over is 4-1 in Trail Blazers last 5 Conference Semifinals games.
Over is 6-2 in Trail Blazers last 8 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Under is 7-3-1 in Trail Blazers last 11 road games.
Over is 11-5-1 in Trail Blazers last 17 games following a ATS loss.
Over is 4-0 in Nuggets last 4 Conference Semifinals games.
Over is 4-0 in Nuggets last 4 vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
Over is 6-1 in Nuggets last 7 games playing on 1 days rest.
Over is 5-1 in Nuggets last 6 vs. NBA Northwest.
Under is 13-3 in Nuggets last 16 home games.
Under is 4-1 in Nuggets last 5 Monday games.
Under is 4-1 in Nuggets last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
Under is 15-4 in Nuggets last 19 games following a ATS loss.
Under is 20-6 in Nuggets last 26 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.
Under is 14-5 in Nuggets last 19 games following a straight up win.
Under is 20-8 in Nuggets last 28 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game.
Under is 22-10 in Nuggets last 32 overall.
Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
Over is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings in Denver.
Trail Blazers are 1-3-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Denver.
Trail Blazers are 1-5-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings.