The NBA season is back and has its first full night of action on Wednesday night. After two games kicked off the new NBA season on Tuesday, eleven games will tip off on October 23. One of the last games to go on the night will be an exciting matchup between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers. This game will tip off at around 10:00 PM Eastern time.
Denver finished out last season with a record of 54-28, which allowed them to finish in second place of the Western Conference. The Nuggets met up with the San Antonio Spurs in the first round and were able to move on in seven games, but lost to the Trail Blazers in the second round in a seven game series. Denver looks to bounce back this season with a revenge win against Portland to open up their season.
The Trail Blazers finished out with a 53-29 record last season, which put them in third place of the Western Conference. Portland made a nice playoff run, knocking off the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Nuggets before losing to the Golden State Warriors in the Conference Finals. The Trail Blazers will look to start this season strong with a home victory over Denver.
The Nuggets and the Trail Blazers will open up the season with some intensity as they rematch after last season’s tough seven game series. Denver fell short in game seven and I expect them to look for some revenge on Wednesday night. Neither team has had a lot of changes in the offseason and I expect them to stay competitive throughout this season.
Last Season’s Matchups
Denver and Portland met up four times throughout the regular season last season. The Trail Blazers hosted the first game of the season and lost a backbreaker 113-112. The Nuggets hosted the second game of the series and won 116-113. These teams finished with a home and home late in the season, where each team was able to win in front of their home crowds.
The second round playoff series was one of the best series of the playoffs. The Nuggets took an early series lead with a win at home, but the Trail Blazers tied it up in Game 2. Portland was also win Game 3 in fourth overtime to take a series win. Denver rattled off back to back wins to take a 3-2 series lead, but the Trail Blazers finished the series off with a pair of wins to move on.
Through the regular season and postseason, the Nuggets were able to take six of the eleven games between these two teams. In the eleven games that these two teams played, nine of the games were within ten points. This shows how competitive these teams played against each other, which should help lead to a really exciting season opener.
Last Season’s Identities
Denver’s identity last season really came from their defense. The Nuggets had the best three point defense throughout last season, only allowing their opponents to shoot around 34 percent from behind the arc. Denver also only allowed opposing teams to get an average of 42.5 rebounds per game, which was also the best in the league.
The Trail Blazers were a really good shooting team throughout last season. Portland had the twelfth best field goal percentage, making 46.7 percent of their shots from the field. The Trail Blazers three point shooting was ninth best in the league, making around 36 percent of their shots from deep. Portland also had rebounding play a big part in their game as they averaged 48 rebounds per game and 11.8 offensive rebounds, which were both third best in the NBA.
These teams match up well with each other as Portland is a good shooter, while Denver has strong defense around the perimeter. The Nuggets do not allow a lot of rebounds, while the Trail Blazers get a lot of rebounds. This brings a lot of enticing matchups up and down the floor as these two teams try to gain the edge on each other.
The Nuggets had a good all-around scoring unit last season. Nikola Jokic averaged 20 points per game with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Jamal Murray finished with 18 points per game. Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, Will Barton, Malik Beasley, and Monte Morris all averaged over 10 points per game for Denver throughout last season as well.
A big reason why Portland was such a good shooting team throughout last season was their Guard pairing. Damian Lillard averaged 26 points and 7 assists per game at the Points Guard spot, while C.J. McCollum averaged 21 points per game from the Shooting Guard position. Enes Kanter stepped up and averaged 13 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
The Trail Blazers will still be missing Jusuf Nurkic to start out this season, which hurts Portland’s lineup. Denver will be stuck with a tough matchup as they try to slow down the duo of Lillard and McCollum, while also trying to produce the same strong depth performance that they had last season. If the Trail Blazers can get a strong start at home, I think they will be able to hold on for the win.
This is one of the best matchups early in the season as these teams renew last season’s rivalry. The Nuggets and Trail Blazers were neck and neck in both the standings and almost all their games. I think that these two teams will deliver on Wednesday night. I believe that Portland has a good chance to take it through with it being at home.
BetOnline has the Trail Blazers listed as a -1.5 against the spread in this game. This line gives a slight edge to Portland, but ultimately says it could go either way. I think that this game will be close, but I like the home team. The Trail Blazers guard pair should come out to ball, which will be tough for the Nuggets to stop. With this spread being so small, I am going with Portland to take this season opener.