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Preview: Denver Nuggets wrap up preseason at home against Portland Trail Blazers

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One more before they count

NBA: Preseason-Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets have almost wrapped up their preseason. Three games in the books with one to go and things have gone about as well as they could have hoped. Jerami Grant looks awesome, Michael Porter Jr is living up to the hype in the early stages and most importantly no one has suffered any major injuries (knock on wood). On top of all that Denver has yet to lose a game. Sure, preseason games don’t count but if you’re gonna play them you might as well win them. Tonight the Nuggets will try to run the exhibition table and pick up a win against the Portland Trail Blazers in their one home game of the preseason.

The Blazers meanwhile haven’t enjoyed as much luck. Oddly, they come into Denver on the second night of a preseason back to back, which seems like something you’d avoid in games that don’t count. Despite the fatigue, the Blazers also come into Denver down a key player. After a somewhat shaky start to the preseason, Portland appeared to have finally got all cylinders firing against the Utah Jazz last night but Hassan Whiteside had to leave the game with an ankle injury. With Jusuf Nurkic still recovering from the broken leg he suffered last season Whiteside was to serve as a very solid stopgap at the five. Likewise, the Blazers other big man free agent signing, Pau Gasol, is still nursing a foot injury. If Whiteside’s out for an extended time the Blazers are going to be very challenged down low.

The Basics

Who: Portland Trail Blazers (2-2) at Denver Nuggets (3-0)

When: 7:00 P.M. MDT

Where: The Can, Denver CO

How to watch/listen: Altitude TV (if you get it) and Altitude Radio 92.5 FM

Rival Blog: “Blazers Edge”:https://www.blazersedge.com/

Injured Players: Damian Lillard - game time decision (rest), Hassan Whiteside - out (ankle), Pau Gasol - out (foot), Jusuf Nurkic - out (leg), Nassir Little - out (ankle)

Key matchup: ???

I have no idea who will play tonight. Some coaches like to give their guys a rest in the final preseason game, some like to use it as a dress rehearsal for the regular season. The Nuggets and Blazers are in a particularly unique situation though given the fact that they play each other next week in the season opener. Conventional logic would seem to be to pretty much rest anyone of importance. There’s no point in risking getting someone hurt and equally no point in showing your hand during a meaningless game to the opponent you’re playing in the first game that counts. So all in all, who knows who’s matching up with who tonight.

Key thing to watch for: Michael Porter Jr.

If the idea that the Nuggets won’t play a ton of rotation guys holds true then MPJ very well could get the biggest minutes he’s seen yet. The Nuggets can’t bench everyone and this will be the last audition in the small forward competition. While MPJ has shined so far, it would appear he hasn’t been given a rotation spot quite yet. Hopefully he gets all the chances he needs to show, again, that he’s clearly deserving of minutes.

Opening thought: let’s just get through this

The preseason has been sloppy...to say the least. With a decent chance that both teams empty out the benches tonight’s game shouldn’t be much different. Games that don’t mean anything for some guys while serve as the last gasp at a dying dream for others can get chippy quick. Bottom line is that the only real thing that matters tonight is everyone walks away healthy. Anything else is superfluous.