The Portland Trail Blazers had an up and down 2020-2021 season but ended it on a high note by winning ten of their final 12 games, avoiding the play-in games, and finishing with a record of 42-30. This is the eighth year in a row the Blazers have been in the playoffs.
Last year Portland limped into the playoffs after using all of their energy in the bubble games to make the play-in. The year before that, when Portland made the Western Conference Finals, they didn’t have Jusuf Nurkic.
Like most teams in this compressed NBA season, the Blazers dealt with injuries to some of their key players but were able to stay in the playoff picture, and now for the first time in a few seasons, they will be going into the postseason mostly healthy and rested. They don’t have Zach Collins, but he hasn’t been on the court since last year.
On the other side, the Denver Nuggets are dealing with injuries to some of their main guys, which could affect them in the playoffs, especially early in this series against Portland.
The sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers will face off with the three-seeded Denver Nuggets. Just like the last time these two teams met back in 2019, the Nuggets will have the home-court advantage.
They will be without their second-best player, Jamal Murray, who tore his ACL in April. Murray is one of the best scorers in the league, and last year in the playoffs had two 50 point games. Will Barton and PJ Dozier are also hurt but could maybe come back later in this series or if Denver makes it to the next round. Those two being out really hurts Denver’s backcourt defense.
This first-round matchup is a rematch from the 2019 playoffs, where Portland beat the Nuggets in a wild seven-game series to advance to the West Finals. They played three times this season, and the Nuggets won two of those games.
This series has plenty of storylines to make things even more interesting, and it all starts Saturday night in Denver. If the Blazers want to win this series, these four keys are necessary in order to beat the Denver Nuggets.