The Joker and Dame meet again for another heavyweight joust when the #3 Denver Nuggets host #6 Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of their exhilarating series. Over the weekend, the Blazers blew out the Nuggets by 20 points in Game 4 to even the series at 2-2.

Jusuf Nurkic Nikoa Jokic Game 5 NBA playooffs Portland Trail Blazers Denver Nuggets
Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers scoops a layup against Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 at the Moda Center in Portland. (Image: Steph Chambers/Getty)

The Blazers are +2 underdogs in Game 5 as the series returns to the thin air of Colorado. The Nuggets were 25-11 at home this season, but only 1-1 at Ball Arena so far in the postseason.

Three series out of four in the Western Conference playoffs are deadlocked at 2-2, with only the Utah Jazz holding a 3-1 lead over the Memphis Grizzlies. The LA Lakers/Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavs/LA Clippers are tied at 2-2.

Game 5: #3 Denver Nuggets (2-2) vs. #6 Portland Trail Blazers (2-2)
  • Tip-off: 7:30 pm
  • Location: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
  • Point Spread: DEN -2
  • Total: 226 o/u
  • Money Line: POR +115 / DEN -130
  • Series Line: DEN +100 / POR -122

The Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers are both +4000 odds to win the 2021 NBA championship, according to a recent update by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. The Trail Blazers are the favorites to win the series at -122 odds, while the Nuggets are the underdog at even money over at DraftKings.

The Nuggets won’t have Will Barton (hamstring) available in Game 5, but the swingman could return in Game 6.

Denver Nuggets: Bounce back in Colorado

The slow-starting Nuggets lost Game 1 in Denver, but they didn’t panic. The Nuggets won Game 2 in Denver, then won Game 3 by five points in Portland. The Blazers evened the series with a clutch win in Game 4.

“We got our butts whooped tonight so that should be all the motivation we need,” said JaMychal Green. “It was embarrassing. So, when we go home we gotta be the aggressors.”

Jokic agreed, noting that “we have to be careful, they are dangerous.”

In a Game 4 loss, Denver’s top two scorers combined for only 19 points on 8-for-21 shooting. Jokic scored just 16 points, while Porter added only three points. Jokic leads the Nuggets with 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game, but he struggled in Game 4.

Without Jamal Murray in the last month of the regular season, the Nuggets relied on Michael Porter, Jr. to provide a secondary scoring punch. Through four postseason games, Murray averages 15.3 ppg, but the Blazers shut him down in Game 4, limiting him to only three shots.

The Nuggets need Murray to get more involved early in Game 5 if they want to avoid a 3-2 hole. In Game 1, Porter scored 25 points, but he shot only 1-for-10 beyond the arc. Since that ugly night, he’s 7-for-14 from 3-point land.

Portland Trail Blazers: Big D from Nurkic, Big O from Powell

Damian Lillard (28.8 ppg) and CJ McCollum (23.8 ppg) combined for more than 52 points per game in four games against the Blazers. Norman Powell chipped in 29 points on a hot 11-for-15 shooting in the Game 4 victory.

“I love these types of games, these kinds of moments,” said Powell. “It’s the moment where nothing else matters. You get caught up in the course of the season with stats sometimes, this-that-and-the-other, road trips, but when you get into the playoffs, the only thing that matters is winning.”

The Blazers added Powell before the trade deadline because they wanted the veteran to provide guidance in the postseason. Powell won a title with the Toronto Raptors two seasons ago.

The Blazers won Game 1 by limiting Jokic’s deft playmaking abilities. In Game 4, the Blazers won by simply shutting down Jokic and Murray. Their frontline held Jokic to just 16 points thanks to stifling defense from Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington. Nurkic avoided foul trouble and added 17 points, which was a big factor in Game 4.

Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

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