NBA Basketball
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108
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Denver 24 30 19 35 108
Portland 27 23 24 26 100
100
7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)04:0022:00 ET9:00 PM CT1:00 , October 23, 2019
Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon  Attendance: 19,991

Familiar foes Nuggets, Blazers tip off season

According to STATS
According to STATS

Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers

  1. Portland won Game 7 in Denver in last season's Western Conference semifinals, while Denver has won six of the last seven regular season meetings between these teams. Before that stretch, the Trail Blazers had won 15 of 17 against the Nuggets from Nov. 1, 2013, to Nov. 13, 2017.
  2. Denver led the league with a 43-1 record last season when leading after three quarters, while Portland was 48-4 when leading after 36 minutes, fourth best in the NBA.
  3. The Nuggets posted an NBA-best 34-7 home record (.829) last season but was 20-21 on the road (.488). That .341 drop in win percentage on the road was tied for the third highest mark in the league last season (Minnesota; San Antonio, .390; Dallas, .365).
  4. Damian Lillard has averaged at least 20.0 points and 5.0 assists while making at least 175 3-pointers in each of the last six seasons. Only Stephen Curry and James Harden have had longer streaks all-time (seven seasons, both active) averaging 20.0 and 5.0 with at least 175 3-point makes.
  5. Last season, Nikola Jokic had 17 games with at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists -- more than any other center the last 30 seasons -- and he had 12 such games in 2017-18. The only other centers with 10 or more games of 20/10/7 in a season were David Robinson (13 games) in 1993-94 and Shaquille O'Neal (10) in 1999-00.
  6. The Blazers led the league with a plus-5.2 rebound margin per game last season, and the Nuggets were fourth at plus-3.9. Denver scored a league-high 15.5 second-chance points per game, while Portland's 15.1 tied for third (Minnesota).

A playoff feel for an opening-night game? That seems likely when the Portland Trail Blazers play host to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.

The last time these teams met (outside of this preseason), the Blazers outlasted the Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals, earning their first trip to the conference finals since 2000.

Portland and Denver have met 10 times since April 29, including the Nuggets' 2-0 edge this preseason. So, the familiarity factor is high. And both teams consider themselves contenders to win the West in 2019-20.

"What better way to start it off," Denver coach Michael Malone told the Denver Post. "National TV, a great atmosphere and a team that has left a bad taste in our mouth most of the summer."

Denver, which went 4-0 in the preseason, returns virtually its entire roster from last season and has added Jerami Grant, who started at power forward for Oklahoma City.

In Portland, the big questions include how the Blazers will adapt to the absence of center Jusuf Nurkic (out indefinitely with a broken leg suffered late last season) and how a batch of newcomers will fit in and complement star guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Hassan Whiteside is expected to be Portland's primary center while Nurkic continues to mend, though Whiteside sprained an ankle in the Blazers' preseason finale vs. the Nuggets. If he's able to go -- he says he will -- Whiteside will start Wednesday on a front line that includes small forward Rodney Hood and power forward Zach Collins, both holdovers from last season.

The Blazers' reserves include guard Kent Bazemore and second-year pro Anfernee Simons, along with forward Mario Hezonja, another offseason addition. Veteran forward Anthony Tolliver likely will be the fourth man off the bench.

Center Skal Labissiere has played his way into a possible spot in the rotation, at least with Pau Gasol (foot injury) still unavailable. Collins, a 7-footer, can slide to the center spot, too.

"We have four or five 7-footers, so we have guys who can protect the rim," Portland coach Terry Stotts said.

Whiteside and Collins are active shot blockers, and Bazemore has upped the Blazers defensively. He had seven steals in 19 minutes in the preseason opener against Denver.

Stotts wants fans to look at the long-term, especially with the Blazers playing 13 of their first 18 games on the road.

"You will evolve over the course of the season and find things that work," Stotts said of a young team. "You have to be patient. You have to incorporate these guys slowly ... but we're going to be a better team in March and April."

The Nuggets' leadership core includes center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray, both deep threats. Jokic is a returning first-team All-NBA player. Power forward Paul Millsap provides stability and experience up front, and Grant should help Denver space the floor as another frontcourt standout.

Offensive-minded Will Barton has a shot to start at small forward, with Michael Porter Jr. and Torrey Craig -- who brings defense as well as offense -- also in the mix. Gary Harris joins Murray at guard, and Monte Morris and Malik Beasley give the Nuggets a solid 1-2 backcourt backup punch. Mason Plumlee returns as the second-string center.

"We can't sneak up on nobody anymore," Morris said. "They're circling us on the calendar now. We just gotta be ready to go every time because we're solidified now as far as the top teams in the West."

--Field Level Media

Updated October 22, 2019

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