After an impressive game one win over the Denver Nuggets, the Portland Trail Blazers came back to earth with a thud and a 128 – 109 loss. The Nuggets bench killed their Blazer opposites while defensive lynchpin Jusuf Nurkic fouled out in the third quarter after only 20 odd minutes.
The Blazers lacked fire on defense, and offensively, only Damian Lillard had a strong game. His 42 point effort to go with nine three-pointers was wasted in a fizzer of a team performance. Here were some of the key moments from game two.
The Blazers did still pick up one away win, which is key in a playoff series as they now come home to the Moda Center for two more match-ups.
Here are three key players to watch for in game three.
CJ McCollum has actually had a strong start to the 2021 playoffs, but he will be frustrated by his five turnovers in the last game. His scoring has been strong, but as one of the lowest turnovers players in the NBA, he will want to bounce back with a big performance, while also taking care of the ball.
McCollum’s greatest moment on the NBA stage was his 37 and 41 point games in the 2019 series against the Nuggets. In this series, he will be hoping for a similar huge performance. Dame is likely to have one quiet night in this series, and this will be when CJ wants to step up.
His matchup is pretty favorable between Monte Morris and Austin Rivers, so he will look to take advantage of this in the later games of the series.
Interestingly, Nuggets coach Mike Malone said that Aaron Gordon ” shut down ” Dame in the second half of game two. Dame did only have 10 points on 9 shots in the second half of that game, but the game was effectively over when the Blazers were down by 19 with two minutes to go in the third quarter. Gordon did a good job limiting Lillard in the second half, but you need to consider the stats when the game was still in the balance.
Anytime a player has 42 in a game, the phrase ” shut down ” probably shouldn’t be used.
It will be interesting to see if Gordon can contain Lillard in the next game.
Norman Powell is probably slightly disappointed with how he has started this series. The athletic wing had a career-best season in 2021, but he has started this playoff campaign slowly. ‘
For a guy who won a ring in 2019 and was then a key performer for the Toronto Raptors in 2020, he will know how to time a playoff run. With 1 of 7 from three and then just 8 of 20 overall from the field in the first two games, I expect Powell to bounce straight back with some big games.
His three-point shooting, combined with his explosive inside game, is key to unlocking the Blazer potent offense. His aggressive rim finishing is so important with the Nuggets’ lack of rim protection.
Game three is today at Moda Center at 7.30 PM Oregon time.