Portland Trail Blazers vs Denver Nuggets: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

What: Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets

Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

When: Thursday, 12 December 2019, 10:30 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): TNT | KKSE 92.5FM/950AM, Rip City Radio 620

Portland Trail Blazers (Away)

Head Coach: Terry Stotts {All-Time 449-432 | ATL, MIL, POR}

Season Record: 9-15

Projected Starting Five: (G) Damian Lillard – (G) CJ McCollum – (F) Kent Bazemore – (F) Carmelo Anthony – (C) Hassan Whiteside

Top Performers:

  • (G) Damian Lillard – 36.9 MPG | 26.7 PPG | 7.4 APG | 4.6 RPG
  • (G) CJ McCollum – 36.4 MPG | 22.0 PPG | 4.5 RPG | 3.8 APG
  • (F) Carmelo Anthony – 31.8 MPG | 15.9 PPG | 5.8 RPG | .359 3P%

The Portland Trail Blazers are coming off of a comfortable win over the New York Knicks. While they’ve struggled all year long, nothing seems to give a team reprieve like taking on the Knickerbockers.

It was particularly encouraging for the Portland Trail Blazers as it was their first win since Rodney Hood went down with injury. They haven’t been able to find the mark since losing their wing sniper, but for once it all came together.

The Trail Blazers face off with a very dangerous Denver Nuggets team. The Nuggets are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Sixers. Portland may have their rhythm, but they’ll need a way to get past the Nuggets’ defense.

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Denver Nuggets (Home)

Head Coach: Mike Malone {All-Time 226-229 | SAC, DEN}

Projected Starting Five: (G) Jamal Murray – (G) Gary Harris – (F) Will Barton – (F) Paul Millsap – (C) Nikola Jokic

Season Record: 14-7

Top Performers:

  • (G) Jamal Murray – 32.8 MPG | 18.2 PPG | 4.8 APG | 1.5 SPG
  • (C) Nikola Jokic – 31.0 MPG | 16.1 PPG | 10.1 RPG | 6.1 APG
  • (F) Will Barton – 32.2 MPG | 14.2 PPG | 6.5 RPG | .414 3P%

The Denver Nuggets are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. While they were in the game, Denver was never able to make the crucial run that would send them above their opposition.

The Denver Nuggets will need to improve on their play in the paint, as they lost the rebounding battle by 11 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

When they face off against the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver will face a hobbled team. But a wounded animal is dangerous, and the three-headed monster of Lillard, McCollum, and Melo can score on anyone.

What’s At Stake?

The Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets have a more than storied rivalry. In 181 regular-season meetings, the Trail Blazers lead the Nuggets 98-83.

A win for the Portland Trail Blazers would keep them in place, but bring them within a game of the Minnesota Timberwolves in tenth place.

A win for the Denver Nuggets would bring them level with the Houston Rockets for fourth place in the Western Conference.

Questions to answer

Can the Denver Nuggets get back to their successful style of play?

Is there anything past the Trail Blazers’ big three?

We are going to compare the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

Can the Trail Blazers Maintain Their Shooting?

Yes, the Trail Blazers numbers from last game may be inflated due to the opposition. However, Portland manufactured the looks and converted on them, regardless of the competition.

After shooting 43.3% from the field and 41.5% from three in their last game, they’ll look to test the Nuggets with their newfound form. The Blazers have little in their favour in the paint, so they’ll need to take advantage of their range.

Whether or not they can get past the likes of Monte Morris, Torrey Craig, and Paul Millsap is another issue. The Nuggets run a switchable defence, so the Blazers will have to move the ball swiftly and efficiently to win.

More Joker! More Joker!

The Denver Nuggets live and die by the play of Nikola Jokic. Thankfully he is so brilliant, that they rarely have to concern themselves with his play. Unfortunately, against elite centres, he can’t have a passive game.

Embiid, who has the best defensive rating in the NBA, contained Nikola Jokic. While The Joker attempted only 13 field-goals, it was his lack of touches that was a concern. Lack of touches, but contributing 11 assists, how is that the case?

There is not a time in the Nuggets’ offence that Jokic shouldn’t have the ball in the high-post or off the hand-off. Denver is top in the league in two-point attempts, mostly due to their cutting action off of Jokic. For them to defeat the Trail Blazers, Denver will need to get back to their game.

Portland Is High Risk, High Reward

The Portland Trail Blazers are one of the most unique teams in the NBA this season. With injuries ravaging them, they are struggling to field their strongest squad. It has led to individualistic gameplay, with varying results.

The Blazers rank 29th in the NBA in assists, and are in the top third in two-point field-goal attempts. Portland is playing isolation basketball, and with the talent of Melo, Lillard, and McCollum, it’s hard to suggest otherwise.

A big part of the Blazers’ success against the Knicks lay in the play of their three stars. However, outside of Anfernee Simons, no bench player attempted more than five field-goal attempts in the game. To beat the Nuggets, the Portland stars need to share the wealth.

Malone’s Rotations Are Interesting

The Denver Nuggets succeeded last season off of the back of excellent continuity and habits. This season, amidst some struggles, head coach Mike Malone has chosen to go with a more flexible lineup. With varying results.

While matchups drive success in most cases, it has not worked for the Denver Nuggets. Porter Jr’s appearance in the first quarter was more than a surprise, considering Juancho Hernangomez has been averaging 16.0 minutes over his last five.

Mike Malone needs to pick a plan and stick with it. With so many moving parts, the Nuggets playmakers are having to deal with different skillsets too often. In 31 minute Monte Morris had only three assists, all because his outlets kept changing.

Portland Trail Blazers Roster Notes

(G) Gary Trent – 7 Dec 2019 – Day To Day (Hamstring) – Trent Jr. is questionable for Sunday’s (Dec.8) game against the Thunder.

(G) Rodney Hood – 6 Dec 2019 – Out (Leg) – Hood left Friday’s (Dec 6) game with a torn achilles and will not return.

(F) Zach Collins – 12 Nov 2019 – Out (Left shoulder dislocation) – Collins said he plans on playing this season, according to Casey Holdahl of Trailblazers.com. He’s expected to miss at least the next four months after having shoulder surgery.

(C) Jusuf Nurkic – 23 Oct 2019 – Out (Leg Fracture) – There is no timetable for Nurkic’s return as he recovers from a leg fracture late last season, according to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.

Denver Nuggets Roster Notes

The Denver Nuggets have no roster changes of note.

Head-to-Head: (G) Anfernee Simons vs (G) Monte Morris

Look to the backup guard position for the matchup of the night. While the Blazers’ firepower is with the starters, they have a sneaky scorer off the bench in Anfernee Simons ready to explode. On the other end of the court, Monte Morris looks to turn his steady play into bigger contributions.

(G) Anfernee Simons (6-3, 181lb (190cm, 82kg) | IMG Academy | 1 Year)

 

 

SeasonAgeTeamGamesMPPTSREBASTFG%3P%
19-2020POR2021.710.32.01.6.425.355

 

Anfernee Simons represents the Portland Trail Blazers’ only interesting weapon coming off of the bench. He has taken a massive step in his second season, and with an increased role has come increased production.

Simons is an adept ball-handler and scorer. While he can be too selective at times, the Blazers will need him to be a bit more selfish to beat the defense of the Nuggets.

(G) Monte Morris (6-2, 175lb (188cm, 79kg) | Iowa State | 2 Years)

 

 

SeasonAgeTeamGamesMPPTSREBASTFG%3P%
19-2024DEN2217.87.21.73.3.425.400

 

Monte Morris is mister steady for the Denver Nuggets. While he doesn’t fill up the stat sheet, or complete the flashiest of plays, Morris is a rock in the backcourt that coach Mike Malone depends on.

With Jamal Murray going out early in the last game, Morris played heavy minutes. He was his typical, steady self. But they’ll need more production from him if Murray isn’t ready to go. He is a 40% three points shooter, it can’t hurt for him to look for his shot more.

Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Predictions and Odds

The odds will be updated as they are made available.

Why the Portland Trail Blazers Will Win

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony. Between the three of them, the Portland Trail Blazers have some real firepower. Outside of them, not so much. If they can get rolling offensively, they are one of the most talented scoring trios in the league.

Why the Denver Nuggets Will Win

The Denver Nuggets are still trying to find themselves offensively, but their defensive ability can be suffocating. While the Trail Blazers are already missing key pieces, the Denver backline may be too strong for Portland to overcome.

WSN’s Pick

The Denver Nuggets will be motivated after losing to the Philadelphia 76ers. Without the interior depth to slow down the Nuggets, on top of Denver owning a ferocious defense of their own, there’s little chance for the Trail Blazers to take this game.

WSN Picks: Denver Nuggets defeat Portland Trail Blazers

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