Game 7. An experience the city of Denver has become familiar with over this month. The Denver Nuggets successfully passed their first game 7 test in the first round of the playoffs and now face their second, this time against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Nuggets will try to avoid the fate that befell their Colorado Avalanche roommates, who lost to the San Jose Sharks in game 7 a few days ago. The key difference of course is Denver has the homecourt advantage...and is a better team than their opponent.
The Trail Blazers have performed admirably in this series. The Nuggets had them on the ropes early in game 6 and the Blazers didn’t quit. They outlasted Denver in the 4OT game 3 (slow motion replay and Jamal Murray’s finger tip a big MVP of this series for Portland). Enes Kanter has fought through the possibility of losing his arm and suffocating allergies. Truly an icon of heroism for all of the city of Portland. Still, despite overcoming what seems to be insurmountable odds, let’s be real here: Denver is better. Perhaps if Jusuf Nurkic was on the court instead of trolling from the sidelines in the most disrespectful manner possible this would be a more even matchup, without him though the Blazers have been unable to stop Nikola Jokic who has outplayed everyone on either team. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have carried the Blazers and will no doubt try again tonight. If the Nuggets can put the clamps down like they did against San Antonio two weeks ago in game 7, they should win this one going away.
Who: Portland Trail Blazers (3-3) at Denver Nuggets (3-3)
When: 1:30 PM MDT
How to watch/listen: ABC, the WatchESPN App and Altitude Radio 92.5 FM
Rival blog: Blazers Edge
|PG||Jamal Murray||Damian Lillard||Blazers|
|SG||Gary Harris||C.J. McCollum||Blazers|
|SF||Torrey Craig||Maurice Harkless||Even|
|PF||Paul Millsap||Al Farouq Aminu||Nuggets|
|C||Nikola Jokic||Enes Kanter||Nuggets|
|Bench||Monte Morris, Malik Beasley, Will Barton, Mason Plumlee||Seth Curry, Zach Collins, Rodney Hood, Evan Turner||Blazers|
Injured players: Michael Porter Jr - out (back), Enes Kanter - probable (expired allegra prescription), Jusuf Nurkic - out (leg)
Key matchup: Torrey Craig vs C.J. McCollum
It’s game 7, if the Nuggets aren’t prepared for Lillard to go all out then I don’t know what to tell them. However, C.J. has been just as big of a thorn in their side this series. He’s an outstanding two guard with a bevy of moves but Denver has done virtually nothing to slow him. That falls on Torrey Craig and Gary Harris. Let Lillard get his, Denver can overcome that. Just don’t let C.J. put up 25+ on you. It’s just like the situation with Denver. You know Nikola is going to do what he does, but if Jamal Murray goes off then the Nuggets are going to win. Contain C.J., win the game. It’s that simple.
Key thing to watch for: Now is the time bench
Denver’s bench, one of their greatest strengths of the regular season, has been a virtual no show this series. Will Barton has had some moments in a massive volume of shooting, Malik Beasley had a decent game 1, but outside of that the reserves have been quiet. Monte Morris looks shaken, Mason Plumlee looks lost, the Nuggets need those guys to step up. Another simple way to win this game is to just not be a massive negative when Jokic is off the court. Rodney Hood is just ok and he’s been a key catalyst more than once for Portland in this series. The Nuggets need a Hood-esque performance today out of one of their reserves.
Opening thought: Punk this team
No rah rah speeches about NuggLife in this game 7 preview. Not this time. I respect what the San Antonio Spurs have done as franchise. I respect the accomplishments coach Gregg Popovich has done. I respect the demeanor of that fanbase. I don’t respect jack about the Blazers other than Lillard and McCollum. Nothing would be sweeter than blowing the doors off this team today to emphatically end their season. Tweeting the refs...really? Wearing ear plugs at the home game...really? Wearing what Nurkic did...really? Starting fights because someone put a finger in your face...really? Coming at us with major insults like...checks notes...sassy? REALLY??!!
Hear me now Denver Nuggets. Send these whining, crying babies back to their mamas (shout out to all the moms out there!). They ain’t coming in to our house and ending our season. Do. Not. Let. That. Happen. We didn’t let a veteran tested, playoff hardened team come in our house and beat us and we’re not going to let some allergies crying, box out whining fake tough guys do it to us either. Put this team where they belong: at home on their couches watching the four best teams in the NBA. Blow them out by 30 or crush them at the buzzer, I don’t care. Enough is enough. The Nuggets have grown by leaps and bounds just in the past month. They’ve proved they belong, now live it. The Blazers are not better than us, they’re not tougher than us, they deserve to be the ones who lose this game. They’ve proven that throughout this entire series, time and time again. Do what you’re supposed to do today and finish them.