Denver was unable to replicate their success from Game 1 last time around, but they were still able to be competitive. It’s been a long time since either one of these teams found themselves in the conference finals, and Denver is hoping to end their drought first.
Portland did not get too much from their superstar, but the bench was able to step up in a big way. Bench scoring is huge for teams in playoff games, as when you can get guys to come in and bury their shots when your top guns aren’t getting it going, it makes a difference.
The moneyline for Game 3 is set at Denver +148 and Portland -180. The Trail Blazers are a -4 point favorite, while the over/under is set at 215.5.
Defense and missed threes were the name of the game last time these teams met on Wednesday. In a regular season where teams were regularly scoring over 110 points per game, neither of these foes could even crack triple digits. That is how the playoffs have been going for a lot of teams. The defense has reached new heights and is starting to dictate how the game is going to be played. Nikola Jokic launched just one three (a miss) and shot just 7-17 from the floor, unable to find his groove at any point. He is a major key for Denver in this series, and if he can’t find his groove, they will be in trouble.
Denver should have Torrey Craig back in full for tonight’s contest, which will be huge. They missed his defensive presence for a few quarters last game as he sat with a newly broken nose, and now they can once more stick him on Damian Lillard. Malik Beasley played uninspired and could not hit a foul shot, going 3-8 from the line last game.
Lillard Must Bounce Back
As mentioned above, Damian Lillard did not bring his A-game, and he shot just 1-9 from beyond the arc last game. But this is a new day, and now he’s back on his home floor, where he sunk one of the greatest playoff shots of the past decade to finish the last game there against Oklahoma City. The energy and effectiveness of Enes Kanter on both ends of the floor, despite his significant shoulder injury, has given the team a significant boost. The fact that he is drawing boos, considering the team’s roster makeup, says a lot.
CJ McCollum stepped up, and they will need him to do it again. With Moe Harkless LIKELY not playing, Rodney Hood and Evan Turner both became THAT MUCH more important. Defensively they have to hold it down, and Hood’s scoring could sure come in handy once again today.
Portland Takes A 2-1 Lead
Make sure you bet POR -4 folks! In front of their home fans, they are going to come out of the gates with a vengeance tonight. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will combine for 60, negating Nikola Jokic’s bounce-back performance and the chances it has to lead Denver.
Free Pick: POR -4
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