The Trail Blazers will look to force a Game 7 when they host the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the Western Conference semi-finals on Thursday.
The two sides have gone head to head in a hugely entertaining NBA Playoff Series. But it is the Nuggets who have the edge right now, courtesy of their 124-98 win in Game 6. It was their second straight win, and they have come back from a 2-1 deficit in the series to make it 3-2. Portland won a quadruple overtime Game 3, and they looked to be on the up. But the Nuggets have bounced back impressively to win the two games since.
Nikola Jokic has been instrumental in those two games. He had a triple-double in Game 4, with 21 points, 11 assists, and 12 rebounds. Jokic had 25 points and 19 rebounds in Game 5, as the Nuggets recorded a big win. He has formed a deadly partnership with Jamal Murray. The guard was sensational in Game 4, as he scored 34 points. Murray scored 18 in Game 5, and he is crucial to the Nuggets chances going forward.
The rest of the Denver squad also stepped up in Game 5. Paul Millsap was impressive, and he scored 24 points. Gary Harris has been important on the defensive end as he has been guarding Damian Lillard. He was good on the offensive end as well, scoring 16 points. Denver built their lead in the third quarter when they held Portland to just 18 points. Six Nuggets were in double figures in Game 5.
Portland will fight to save their season on Thursday. Things looked good for the Blazers when they claimed a 140-137 win to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Damian Lillard and C. J McCollum were both looking good, and so was Enes Kanter. But all of them faltered in Game 5. Lillard scored 22 points, and McCollum scored just 12.
Meanwhile, Kanter has been off the boil since Game 4. In the last two games, he has scored just 12 points. He needs to compensate for the loss of Jusuf Nurkic, something which he did well in the first few weeks of the playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers vs Denver Nuggets Prediction
This game is a pivotal one for the Blazers. They impressed in their first-round series against the Thunder, and that increased the hopes. Lillard needs to step as he did against the Thunder, and so does McCollum. Kanter needs to play better and provide a tough match-up for Jokic. The likes of Rodney Hood and Seth Curry also need to play their part, and a combined effort will be required to force a Game 7.
Portland will be eager to fight back in front of their home fans, and they should get the job done. It won’t be easy, as Jokic and Murray will try their best to end the series now itself. A big game from Lillard is needed, and he has shown that he can conjure up those.