NBA Playoffs: Nuggets Vs. Blazers Game 5 Preview – Time Start, Channel, Stats, Odds
On Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. EST, the Portland Trail Blazers will take on the Denver Nuggets, the best team at home in the NBA, at the Pepsi Center, over 5,000 feet above sea level. After splitting the first two games of the series, Portland finds itself in a must-win scenario. Regardless of tonight’s outcome, they must absolutely win a Game 6 at home and then must find a way to steal a win on the road if they hope to reach the Western Conference Finals. However, that’s easier said then done and much easier in a Game 5 than in a Game 7.
While it seems that each of the last two games in this series could’ve gone either way, Portland can’t do anything about that now. On Friday, the Trail Blazers barely locked down a win in an overtime Game 4, winning 140-137. But on Sunday, they staggered to a finish and lost 116-112 in a game that could’ve easily been won. Though they were up, the Nuggets held Damian Lillard and company to only 14 points in the third quarter. A few Nikola Jokic plays and solid free throw shooting, something that’s all but disappeared for the Nuggets this postseason, evened the series up at two apiece. Tuesday night’s game will air on TNT.
For each team, free throw shooting will play a huge role. In the regular season, the Trail Blazers average 81.4% on free throws, second best in the league. They’ve shot 79.2% from the charity stripe during the playoffs, sixth best. That’s the difference between winning a game and losing a series. Either Portland will figure out how to shoot from the line or Denver will be able to shut down anything inside.
Another key thing to watch in this game is turnovers. If Lillard and CJ McCollum can keep the ball from the other team, the Blazers will win. In each of their two losses so far, they’ve had six more turnovers than Denver did. Denver could easily win tonight but Portland will strive to come out on top.