After taking care of business at home in Game 5, the Denver Nuggets have an opportunity to punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals for only the second time over the past 35 years.
It’s not going to be easy heading into the Pacific Northwest as the Portland Trail Blazers look to force Game 7.
Game details: Here’s a look at the start time, television information and odds for tonight’s Nuggets-Blazers Game 6.
- When: 10:30 p.m. ET
- Where: Moda Center, Portland, OR
- TV: ESPN
- Betting line: Portland -3.5 / 215.5 points
The big picture: It’s all about Nikola Jokic and Damian Lillard in this one. Jokic has played like an MVP for his Nuggets in the series. He’s averaging 26.4 points, 14.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. Portland needs Lillard to get out of his shooting slump (25%) from three in the series.
Here’s a handful of bold predictions for Thursday night’s Nuggets-Blazers Game 6.
Nuggets start hot
Despite being down in the series 3-2, the Blazers have outscored Denver by 14 points in the first quarter. Most expect Portland to come out with a ton of fire in front of its home crowd Thursday night. We are here to snuff out that idea.
The combination of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have struggled from the field in the series. Portland will be relying on them big time. We’re going to boldly predict that each starts out slowly, giving Denver a double-digit lead after the opening stanza.
Nikola Jokic adds a triple double early
Having put up a triple-double in three of his past six games, it’s not necessarily bold to predict that Jokic will add another one to his resume Thursday night. In fact, he’s almost averaging a triple-double on the series.
Instead, we’re going to predict that the game’s most-skilled big man accomplishes that feat before the fourth quarter comes calling. He’s in some sort of groove right now. Portland doesn’t have an answer. And in the end, Jokic is going to have another huge night.
Lillard puts up 25-point third quarter
We have yet to see Lillard go full Dame in this series. It’s something that the Oklahoma City Thunder fell victim to in Round 1. And it’s just a matter of time before one of the game’s streakiest players hits full NBA Jam mode.
With his Blazers trailing at halftime, Lillard is going to come out and take it upon himself in the third quarter. He’s going to play full hero ball. And in the end, it’s going to lead to a massive explosition to open up the second half. The dude isn’t going to shoot 25% from distance the entire series. It’s the Oakland in him. Shoot your shot.
Jamal Murray struggles big time
No stage has been too big for this star young point guard thus far in the playoffs. Murray is averaging a whopping 24.4 points on 45 percent shooting through five games. A solid performer during the regular year, he’s averaging six more points per outing in the conference semifinals.
At least for one game, Murray cools off a great deal. He’ll be running with Lillard on the other end of the court, forcing the youngster to expend a ton of energy. That’ll impact Murray as he goes for 15 or fewer points in this one.
Tables turned on the Blazers
We saw what happened in Game 5 of Portland’s first-round series. Damian Lillard’s dagger at the buzzer sent these Blazers to the second round while shocking Oklahoma City in the process.
The tables are going to be turned here. In a close game towards the end of regulation, Jokic is going to make a hotly-contested shot to put Denver into the conference finals. It will come after Lillard put Portland up with just seconds remaining on a three.