Game Preview: Portland Trail Blazers Face the First Seeded Nuggets

The Portland Trail Blazers have won four games in a row, but they will face their ultimate test tonight against the Denver Nuggets.

The Portland Trail Blazers have won their last four games and six out of their last seven. They have been playing, perhaps, their best basketball of the season. However, they will face their ultimate test tonight against the first seeded Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets have been surprisingly dominant all season long. Led by Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, we all knew that the Nuggets would be a strong offensive team, but Denver’s success can actually be attributed to their suprisingly strong defense. Defensively, Denver is allowing the fourth fewest points per game, and it starts with Jokic. After being a subpar defender last season, Jokic has clearing worked on his game and is defending pick and rolls with a newfound aggressiveness.

The Nuggets have been winning without their full roster. Will Barton and Gary Harris have missed significant time. Barton returned last night and played his first game since October 20th. Barton is expected to be available once again tonight. Harris is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Trey Lyles is also questionable tonight. On Portland’s side, Maurice Harkless will not play due to a knee injury.

Although he is a talented player, the Nuggets still have to readjust Barton to the team, and that task may hold them back a little tonight. The Nuggets lost to the Phoenix Suns yesterday and Barton shot 2-10 from the field.

The Nuggets are not shooting the ball from three-point range as well as you would expect. They are only 16th in the NBA in three-point percentage. The Blazers are actually 11th in the NBA in three-point percentage. Seth Curry‘s league leading 49.1% certainly helps that statistic. The Blazers would be wise to run extra sets for Curry and Damian Lillard tonight.

The Blazers have been gaining momentum lately, and a win over the Nuggets on the road would certainly inspire further confidence.