NBA Odds, Preview, Prediction for Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Game 5: Does Home-Court Advantage Matter for Denver? (Tuesday, June 1)
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard.
- The Portland Trail Blazers hit the road for Tuesday's Game 5 showdown against the Denver Nuggets in the NBA playoffs.
- Damian Lillard and the Blazers haven't had that siganture offensive outburst as of yet, but could deliver in this spot.
- Kenny Ducey explains below why he likes Portland to grab a 3-2 series lead with a road victory.
Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Game 5 Odds
|Trail Blazers Odds||+2|
|Moneyline||+107 / -127|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday morning via DraftKings.|
In what’s been an unpredictable series to this point, the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets will fight for control with the series tied at two games apiece in Tuesday’s critical Game 5 in Denver.
Portland will be happy to play this one away from home given its struggles at Moda Center all season long, but will that be enough to push it across the finish line in this spot?
Let’s go through the numbers and see if there’s value in backing the underdogs in this intriguing showdown.
Trail Blazers Still Haven’t Fired On All Offensive Cylinders
For a team that ranked second in offensive efficiency and sixth in 3-point percentage this year, it’s felt like the Blazers have yet to have that offensive explosion we all expected coming in against a very average defense.
Sure, Portland shot more than 47% from three in the first two games and took Game 1 in decisive fashion, but 21 turnovers in Game 2 essentially cancelled out that great performance. Plus, a slow pace to this series has generally aided in making it seem just slightly less exciting from an offensive point of view.
Since those opening games, the Trail Blazers stand at just 33.3% from beyond the arc, seemingly poised to see some positive regression any day now. The man who should lead the charge in that department is Damian Lillard, who has hit just six threes in his last 22 tries. In fact, when it was all said and done in Portland’s Game 4 win, Lillard hit just one of his 10 field-goal attempts.
The Blazers proved they can win without Lillard, but it seems unsustainable to shoot that poorly from three and get nothing from your star player with a defense so bad. The Nuggets aren’t going to stumble into a 102.2 offensive rating every night.
Another player who’s been crucial this postseason for the Blazers is the aforementioned Jusuf Nurkić. It’s no coincidence Portland lost the two games he fouled out of in this series. The big man has added 22.2 points per 100 possessions on offense, according to NBA.com, and when he’s been off the floor the team’s defensive rating drops from a shiny 106 to 134.6 in this category.
We’re obviously dealing with a small sample here, but with the margins thin for the vast majority of this series, missing Nurkić for large chunks of the game obviously isn’t ideal for the Blazers. The big man has been a tremendous in combating Nikola Jokić down low, and gives Portland a steady scoring option when its threes aren’t falling.
Nuggets Continue To Produce Despite Murray’s Absence
So far, Denver’s got to be pleased with how this series has gone. It absorbed an incredible shooting night from the Trail Blazers in Game 2, and a 42-point game from Lillard, taking that one rather easily.
The Nuggets have been counted out ever since Jamal Murray went down with an injury, and yet they stand a great chance to advance here, playing in a pivotal Game 5 at home.
While it’s always nice to sleep in your own bed, this series features two teams with reverse home/road splits. The Nuggets went just 17-21 against the spread at the Pepsi Center this year, and conversely the Blazers have gone 24-14 ATS on the road.
The opposite is true for both teams, naturally — they’re both incredible on the road. That’s why it’s hard to say the Nuggets have a distinct advantage here, even with fans in attendance.
Denver’s defense has not been strong all series long, but it hasn’t really mattered because of its uber-efficient offense. That slowed in Game 4, when the Nuggets scored just 102.2 points per 100 possessions, shooting 34% from the field and 29.5% from beyond the arc.
It was a sharp decline from the great shooting numbers they’ve seen all series long, but the hope is that their 37.7% clip from the regular season indicates that was a mere blip on the radar. Simply put, Denver needs to continue to take advantage of Portland’s defense, because it’s not really playing at the moment.
Trail Blazers-Nuggets Pick
I’m inclined to believe we keep seeing “home-court advantage” ping-ponging around. The Blazers should play well here in Denver, considering they’ve shot a blistering 39.6% from three away from home this season and 47.9% from deep in the two games this series played at the Nuggets.
It’s also fair to assume Nurkić, who matched a career low in fouls per 36 minutes this year, plays big minutes here after being in foul trouble for the first three games of the series.
With Nurkić seeing 30+ minutes, the Blazers should have all the tools they need to out-score this pesky Nuggets side. I’d give them a much better chance than the 46.73% implied probability they have here; I’d actually make them a slight favorite.
Perhaps the Nuggets are just seeing a blip in the radar offensively, or perhaps the fact that they’re playing without a starting point guard is finally catching up to them. I’m inclined to believe the latter, and take the great odds on Portland.
Pick: Trail Blazers ML (+107)