The Portland Trail Blazers (31-38) will tipoff against the Denver Nuggets (45-23) on Thursday night in Orlando. The Trail Blazers continue to battle for the final spot in the Western Conference while the Nuggets fight for the second overall seed.
Each team will have four remaining regular-season contests following the conclusion of this game. Tipoff is set for 8 pm EST. The Trail Blazers are an early -3.5 favorite in the bout.
What to Know – Portland Trail Blazers
Heading into Thursday’s game, the Trail Blazers sit one game behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the final spot in the playoff picture. If the two teams finish with four games of each other, they will face each other in a play-in game. However, the 8th-seed will have an advantage with the lower seed having to beat them twice before advancing.
Portland had a huge win on Tuesday when the Blazers took down the Houston Rockets 110-102. Damian Lillard scored a team-high 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting while CJ McCollum added 20 on 8-of-18.
With score 104-102 and under a minute to play, veteran Carmelo Anthony put the game away with a three-pointer to put Portland ahead 107-102 with 50 seconds left. The 36-year old Anthony provided 15 points over 36 minutes of work.
Since the restart of the season, the Trail Blazers have won two out of three games with key victories over Houston and Memphis. Portland is 0-3 against the Nuggets this season that includes a 127-99 throttling the last time these two teams met on February 4th.
What to Know – Denver Nuggets
Like Portland, Denver has also gone 2-1 since the season’s restart with their lone loss coming in a 20-point blowout to the Miami Heat in their first game back. Since then, the Nuggets have knocked off the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs to the hope alive for the 2-seed in the West.
The Nuggets will be playing their second game as many days on Thursday. On Wednesday, the Nuggets pulled away in the second half from the Spurs to take a 132-126 victory.
22-year old Michael Porter Jr. stayed hot, pouring in a game-high 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting and grabbing 16 rebounds. Big man Nikola Jokic added 25 points and 11 assists.
When these two teams last met, Jokic led the scoring for the Nuggets with 29 points, and Jamal Murray, who did not play in Wednesday’s contest with an injury, netted 20.
The Pick is In
Michael Porter Jr. has looked like a man on a mission scoring 68 points over the last two contests. However, Portland seems to be playing like a team on a mission. If the Trail Blazers were able to lock up the 8th seed an avoid having to face the Grizzlies twice, that would be very beneficial.
With the Nuggets playing back-to-back and the Trail Blazers fighting for that 8-seed, we lean Portland -3.5.