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Preview: Nuggets look to take control of series in Game 5 against Portland

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Saying this game is a big one would be an understatement.

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Four Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Tuesday night at Ball Arena, the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers square off in a massively important Game 5. Neither team can be eliminated on Tuesday night, but one team sure can take control of this series as the winner will have a 3-2 advantage going into Game 6 Thursday night in Portland.

Denver won games two and three after Portland won the first game of the series, but the Nuggets were unable to put a stranglehold on the series as they got absolutely dusted in Game 4 by the Trail Blazers. Because of that, the Nuggets desperately need a win on Tuesday night to maintain home court advantage and not go into Portland on Thursday night in a must-win scenario.

It will take a big game from Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. for the Nuggets to be successful as both players struggled in Game 4. It’s not like Jokic to have an off game, so expect him to once again play like the leagues MVP on Tuesday night, while Porter tries to bounce back as well.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers series tied 2-2

When: 7:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. League Pass for non-Denver market viewers. Show up in Portland. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio. The game will also be on NBATV for those lucky enough to have it not blacked out.

Rival Blog: Blazer’s Edge

Expected Starting Lineups:

Portland: PG Damian Lillard, SG C.J. McCollum, SF Norman Powell, PF Robert Covington, C Jusuf Nurkic

Denver: PG Facundo Campazzo, SG Austin Rivers, SF Aaron Gordon, PF Michael Porter Jr., C Nikola Jokic

Injury Report: Will Barton (right hamstring strain), PJ Dozier (right adductor strain), Jamal Murray (left ACL surgery) OUT

Three Things to Watch

Can the Nuggets maintain home court advantage?

This is a big one because if the Nuggets can beat the Trail Blazers tonight then Game 6 is basically a win-win situation for Denver. Sure, they would love to end the series in six games, but if they were to lose then Game 7 would be back at Ball Arena. Now, this same situation occurred when the two teams met back in 2019 as the Nuggets took Game 5 before the Trail Blazers won back-to-back games to win the series.

The Nuggets will look to avoid that scenario this season and in order to do so winning on Tuesday night is key. Then, Denver just has to win one of their final two games for history to not repeat itself. This Nuggets team has a ton more playoff experience than their 2019 one — mostly Jokic — so hopefully it will be different this time around. Winning Tuesday night is huge though for the Nuggets to get the momentum back on their side.

Can Michael Porter Jr. bounce back?

In arguably his worst game in a very long time, Porter shot just 1-of-3 from the field in Game 4 for three points. Just a completely unacceptable performance from the Nuggets second main scorer behind Jokic. I expect the Nuggets to try and get Porter involved early which is something they failed to do in Game 4. That way their superstar youngster can heat up and hopefully play a big role in the Nuggets taking control of the series.

How does Nikola Jokic respond to his Game 4 performance?

Along the same lines of Porter, it was not a good day at the office for Jokic is Game 4. The Nuggets MVP front runner shot just 7-of-18 from the field for 16 points and had the worst +/- (-32) on Denver’s team. Jokic also had just one assist, which is a stat that needs to change in Game 5.

Luckily for the Nuggets and Jokic, this was his first bad game of the season so hopefully it was just an anomaly. If the Nuggets want to be successful they need Jokic to lead them, so lets hope he gets his groove back and finds a rhythm on Tuesday night to put Denver back in the win column.