Portland Trail Blazers
Portland has surprised everyone when they easily eliminated Oklahoma 4:1. Because Blazers were underdogs since they lost Nurkic right before playoffs. However, the team has shown incredible performance, motivation, and ambition. Of course, the key man was Damian Lillard, the team’s leader many seasons already. He has shown nerves of steel many times, as he demonstrated against OKC in final game scoring game-winner. Also, big help comes from McCollum, Kanter, Hood. These are players who must now improve their performance even more if they want to stand a chance against Nuggets. Because it will be very difficult to stop Jokic, after the loss of Nurkic, so the defense will be struggling and the only offense like against Oklahoma might save Portland.
Game 1 has already shown that when Jokic is allowed to play as he wants, to win is impossible as he alone scored 37 points. So Blazers must figure some ways to stop him, otherwise, their season is coming to the end.
Nuggets have surprised many critics by taking 2nd place in the West, almost securing 1st. However, in playoffs round 1 they started struggling and were very close from being eliminated, series with Spurs ended 4:3, it was a big surprise, because Spurs barely made to playoffs and took only 7th place, and if not Murray’s benefice in game 2 against Spurs, probably series would be closed much sooner and not by Nuggets, however, they found what it took to win final game, and in game 1 against Portland looked much better, without any pressure, more improvisation, all they need to let Jokic do what he does best, allow Murray to help him, and remain a team, and series would be much easier than against Spurs.
This season Portland has won only once against Nuggets, lost 4 times. Now it will be more difficult than it was in the regular season.