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Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers Odds, Game 3 Preview, Prediction: How To Bet First Game in Portland (May 27)

Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers Odds, Game 3 Preview, Prediction: How To Bet First Game in Portland (May 27) article feature image

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard.

  • The Denver Nuggets will look to win a second game in a row when they travel to Oregon to take on the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night.
  • The Blazers' offense has been on fire behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but Nikola Jokic did enough to put up 38 points and pull off a win last game.
  • Phillip Kall breaks down the game below and shares a betting pick based on his analysis below.

Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers Odds

Nuggets Odds+3.5
Trail Blazers Odds-3.5
Moneyline+136 / -162
Time10:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday evening and via FanDuel.

In Game 2, the Nuggets avoided an 0-2 start with a forceful 128-109 win over the Trail Blazers.

Nikola Jokic did the heavy lifting in the victory, scoring 38 points on 75% shooting. Feeding Jokic was clearly an adjustment Denver made after its Game 1 loss to take advantage of its distinct height advantage. On the road now, the Nuggets will need similar success from their star to pull an upset and win back home-court.

As Denver did before Game 2, Portland needs to go back to the drawing board to turn things around in Game 3.

Fortunately for the Blazers, it stole home-court in Game 1. To keep home-court, though, they will need to control the ball better. Portland allowed 21 turnovers, and Denver turned those into 16 transition points. The Blazers already struggle defensively, so giving up easy points is not something they can afford.

With their first chance to play at home, the Blazers opened as 3.5-point favorites. Let’s take a deep dive to see if they can defend home-court and keep control of the series.

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Nuggets Need to Step Up Against Lillard & McCollum

The Nuggets entered Game 2 determined to utilize their superior size and attack inside. They even utilized a unique offense in which their guards stood in the corners while the frontcourt played 3-on-3.

Making these changes helped Jokic find room to create and get going early. He would put up 25 points in the first half and shot 10-of-12 from the floor. Forcing the issue inside helped open the floor for the Nuggets’ shooters, who shot 42.9% from the outside.

Where Denver needs to start answering questions is on the defensive side of the court.

Missing Jamal Murray and Will Barton has it playing undermanned, and the Portland backcourt has noticed. Blazers guard C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined for 55 in Game 1 and 63 in Game 2.

The Trail Blazers’ ability to turn it on at any moment makes trying to outscore them a dangerous game. Even with Denver’s excellent offensive play in Game 2, Portland fought back to make things close in the second. If Denver does not find a way to slow down the Blazers’ guards, it will be playing with fire all series.

In Game 3, Denver should look to replicate its offensive success from Game 2. This should start with Jokic, but even an MVP can’t shoot 75% from the floor each night.

The Nuggets will need to get more from Michael Porter Jr. Porter is averaging 21.5 points but shooting just 25% from 3 despite being the Nuggets’ best shooter in the regular season. If Porter gets back to hitting his shots, Denver will have a better chance of keeping pace with Portland when it inevitably gets hot.

Portland Has No Problem on Offense

Damian Lillard did his best to keep up with Denver’s fast start, scoring 32 first-half points. Portland could not convert Lillard’s hot hand into team success, though, as it still entered the half down 12. 

The trouble was its play on defense. Denver dominated inside, leading to a 65.9% shooting percentage overall, including 75% from inside the arc. Portland did make half-time adjustments and held Denver to 42.2% shooting in the second half. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, as Dame had gone cold and shot 2-of-9 in the second half. 

If Blazers can continue that defensive success, their offense should be able to guide them to a victory.

Portland’s offense has shot well throughout the series, making 47.6% of their shots and even upgrading that to 36.5% from deep. If it had not been for its obscene number of turnovers, Game 2 might have been a lot closer. The turnovers ended Portland’s possessions without shot attempts, allowing Denver to take an additional 13 shots. When a team shoots as well as Denver did, opponents can’t afford to help by giving extra opportunities.

We have seen in both games the Blazers get hot and go on big runs. In Game 1, it helped them create their big lead and pull away from the Nuggets. However, in Game 2, Denver got ahead by enough that the hot runs were not enough. In Game 3, Portland’s defense will need to stop Denver from starting hot so when it does hit its hot stretch, Denver can’t recover.

Nuggets-Trail Blazers Pick

The difference between Games 1 and 2 was Denver’s ability to withstand Portland’s hot spurts.

In Game 1, Denver pulled ahead by nine early in the third quarter, but Portland turned it on and entered the fourth up by 10. In Game 2, though, the Nuggets owned an 18-point lead when Dame went supernova. This time, instead of chucking 3s to keep pace, Denver stuck to its game plan and continued attacking inside. It may have been outscored during the Blazers’ spurt, but at its end, Portland still trailed by four.

The trouble for Denver in this series has been its ability to keep pace with Portland by scoring 2s instead of 3s.

The Nuggets’ game plan worked for a win in Game 2, but it took a 65.9% shooting effort in the first half to do so. Unless Denver can find a way to effectively slow down Dame and McCollum, it will hope to continue winning shootouts. Unfortunately, that plays right into Portland’s style.

Add the extra urgency from wanting to keep home-court in their first home playoff game, and the stars are aligning for the Blazers.

Back Portland to take care of business and retain home-court.

Pick:Trail Blazers -3.5 (Play to -5).

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