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Preview: Nuggets host division rival Trail Blazers

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The Nuggets look to pick up their sixth win of the month against Jusuf Nurkic and the Trail Blazers.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets were able to beat the Trail Blazers in their first matchup this season, prevailing in the final seconds, 113-112. Portland, fresh off a blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets, travel to the Mile High City to get revenge.

The Nuggets are playing their second game in two nights, having lost to the Phoenix Suns in Arizona last night in a game where they couldn’t get their offense clicking, finishing the game with 15 turnovers while shooting 38.6-percent from the field.

They’ll have a tough test against Portland, who have won four straight games as they continue to be a force in the Western Conference.

The Basics

Who: Portland Trail Blazers (26-17) vs Denver Nuggets (28-13)

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

When: 6:00 PM MT

How to watch/listen: Altitude, 950 AM, NBA League Pass

Rival blog: Blazer’s Edge

Lineups

POS
POR
DEN
EDGE
PG
Damian Lillard
Jamal Murray
POR
SG
CJ McCollum
Malik Beasley
POR
SF
Jake Layman
Torrey Craig
Even
PF
Al-Farouq Aminu
Paul Millsap
Nuggets
C
Jusuf Nurkic
Nikola Jokic
Nuggets
Bench
Evan Turner, Nik Stauskas, Seth Curry, Zach Collins, Meyers Leonard
Monte Morris, Will Barton, Juancho Hernangomez, Mason Plumlee
Nuggets

Injuries: Trey Lyles, Gary Harris (questionable), Michael Porter Jr., Jarred Vanderbilt, Isaiah Thomas (out); Mo Harkless (out)

What to watch

Will Barton’s return. The veteran swingman started his career with the Trail Blazers, and I’m sure he was glad to get his first game back out of the way against the Phoenix Suns. Barton was rustier than an old metal gate, missing 8 of his 10 field goal attempts, and looking out of sync. If all he needed was one night to shake off the cobwebs of missing two months, the Nuggets could really use him tonight. Many of the Denver players looked fatigued last night, and now they have to get up for another game tonight.

Torrey Craig minutes. The second year player has worked his way into the rotation due to his defensive effort — but his outside shot has been falling lately, meaning he’s going to continue to get minutes. With injuries to Gary Harris, he’s going to get small forward minutes for now. Will he continue to play well enough to be in the starting lineup? They’re going to need his defense against the Portland starting guards tonight, especially if Harris can’t go.

Jokic triple-double? Jokic definitely gets into these games against his former teammate, Nurkic. The two had a cordial relationship while in Denver, but Jokic doesn’t like losing to him. The Nuggets are in need of a kick in the pants after their disappointing loss to the Suns, and no one kicks pants better on the Nuggets than Jokic. Jokic-ball works best when the team trusts each other, moves through space, and ... this is the big part ... makes open shots. It seems too simple, but if they’re going to shoot under 40 percent again, this could be an ugly loss.

Prediction

Trail Blazers 111 - Nuggets 105