Denver Nuggets (20-20-, 9-11 away) @ Portland Trailblazers (31-11, 16-4 home) 01/23- 10:30PM EST
Line: POR -7.0
The Portland Trailblazers return home to the Rose Garden on Thursday night looking to get back on track against the Denver Nuggets and avoid losing their third consecutive game for the first time all season.
The Blazers (31-11) return home after splitting a four-game road trip that saw them beat San Antonio and Dallas to start but then lose to Houston and Oklahoma City to end it. It was a tough stretch of games on the road as they faced four of the Western Conference’s top seven teams.
Tuesday’s loss 105-97 at the hands of the Thunder cost them first place in the Northwest Division as OKC now lead the Blazers by one full game. Portland led the Thunder for much of that contest, but thanks to Kevin Durant going for 46 points (11 in the final 3:23), he showed why he is this year’s NBA MVP hands down in my opinion.
“We’re not happy. Last year we were coming off a road trip at .500. We’re not that team anymore,” said Wesley Matthews.
On Durant who has scored at least 30 points in his last seven games… Matthews says, “When the basket is an ocean, you can’t really do much about it. He’s been on a roll.”
Despite that loss, this is a different Portland team that we are accustomed to in the past and although they lead the NBA in scoring with 109.3 points per game, their defense at 103.5 needs some improvement if they want to be serious contenders come playoff time.
LaMarcus Aldridge and guard Damien Lillard along with a supporting cast are getting it done this year and all helped in an earlier win at Denver 113-98 back on Nov. 1 that saw a 3-point shooting barrage in which the Blazers went 14 of 22 from beyond the arc.
Portland has beaten the Nuggets 6 of seven times at the Rose Garden, with Denver winning on their last visit back on Feb. 27 111-109.
For the Nuggets (20-20), it’s been an up and down season and had to be feeling good after winning five straight but have since dropped three of four and two consecutive. Now with the loss of Danilo Gallinari gone for the season after undergoing a second operation on his left knee, the Nuggets may be nothing more than a .500 team the rest of the way.
Defense.. or should I say lack of defense has been their downfall all year long and their last four opponents have averaged 117.0 points while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor.
“We score enough points,” Ty Lawson said. “No defense.”
And it’s the lack of defense by the Nuggets that has oddsmakers making the home Blazers a (minus -7.0) point favorite on Thursday, but get the latest odds up until game time right here at Wonder Punter.
Lawson is averaging 19.9 points on 51.2 percent shooting against the Trailblazers over his last eight games, but it will take more than that to upset Blazers who are exceptionally tough at home. All signs point to the Trailblazers winning easily.
By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter