trailblazers

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets Preview and Prediction

Free Falling

The Portland Trail Blazers are currently on a 10-game losing streak. That isn’t subject to change tomorrow night as they take on the Denver Nuggets on the road.

Matchup: Portland (33-46) @ Denver Nuggets (54-25)
Venue: Pepsi Center
Time: 2:00 PM PT
Date: Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Nuggets have been one of the hottest teams since the all-star break. They are coming off a loss to the Dallas Mavericks, a team that, like the Blazers, are not going to make the playoffs. They will try to avoid back-to-back losses to non-playoff teams.

Game Notes/How They Match Up

Portland got off to a solid start Friday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but a horrible 3rd quarter was too much to bounce back from.

Damian Lillard had his second bad game against the Thunder, both coming at home, and in both he shot just 3-14 from the field. He has bounce back nicely from the few games he’s had like that this season. I expect him to play much better against Denver.

Denver’s Ty Lawson returned to action in their last game, but came off the bench and played just 19 minutes. He has missed 8 of the past 10 games while nursing a heel injury.

The Nuggets are still fighting for home court advantage in the playoffs as they are tied with the Memphis Grizzlies and just 1 game up on the Los Angeles Clippers. Falling behind both will slip them to 5th place. If just L.A. moves ahead, that puts them at 4th.

If just Memphis moves ahead of them that will drop them down to a 5th seed because L.A. has won their division, giving them a clinched home court advantage in the first round.

The Nuggets are still fighting for home court advantage in the playoffs

The Nuggets are still fighting for home court advantage in the playoffs

What to Watch: Portland

Portland continues to give their rookies and bench guys more minutes as this season winds down to an end. Will Barton has been playing well in Wesley Matthews‘ absence. It looks as if he has been given the green light as of late. I would like to see him stay aggressive while not turning the ball over. He is starting to show why he was a steal of a 2nd round draft pick for Portland.

Denver is a tough defensive squad that creates turnovers. Barton, along with the other rookies and bench guys, will have to take care of the ball if they want to have a chance in this one.

What to Watch: Denver

As I just mentioned, Denver really gets after it defensively. Look for them to be very aggressive with these rookies and bench players of the Blazers. If they get easy turnovers and start to make this a track meet then this is going to be a long night for the Blazers.

Denver likes to run and throw alley-oops. They’ve been throwing more alley-oops than they’ve been running as of late with Lawson out and Andre Miller running the show at point guard. Miller has transformed the Nuggets into the best lob team in the NBA, even better than the Clippers.

Key Matchup

I am going with Wilson Chandler versus Will Barton in this one. If Barton can have a nice game and keep up with Chandler’s defensive intensity then it could open up things for Damian Lillard. Lillard will likely see a lot of double teams in this one if Lawson is limited again as he was last game.

Chandler has played well in the starting line-up since Danilo Gallinari went down with a season ending knee injury. Barton is the best defensive player in the world, but he has stepped up his all-around game as of late, including his defense. Yeah, Kobe dropped 47 on him, but that’s Kobe, and he did go to the free-throw line like 20 times.

Injury Report

Portland: DAY-TO-DAY—Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and Nolan Smith

Denver: OUT – Danilo Gallinari; DAY-TO-DAY—Ty Lawson

Prediction

Denver will have 10 plus lobs, Luke Babbitt will have more turnovers than shot attempts, and the Blazers  will lose. 

Blazers 97 – Nuggets 111

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