Photo Courtesy of: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets face off against old friend Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night in Portland.
Where: Portland, Oregon-Moda Center
When: 8 p.m. MST
Watch/Listen: Altitude Sports and Entertainment-KKSE 950 AM
The Denver Nuggets haven’t won in Portland since February 27, 2013 when they beat the Trail Blazers 111-109. Denver’s roster looked a little different back then as Ty Lawson was the Nuggets leading scorer in that game with 30 and Andre Iguodala also chipped in 29 points. Since that game, the Nuggets have gotten rid off every single player on that Nuggets roster except for Wilson Chandler. Four seasons have since gone by and if the Nuggets want to make it back to the postseason this year, they’ll have to be able to win tough games on the road.
Last season the Trail Blazers beat the Nuggets by one game to secure the eighth seed in the playoffs and crushed the Nuggets hopes and dreams with a 122-113 victory during the last few weeks of the season. That game was also the Tim Connelly game where he described leaving the stadium and walking in the rain back to his hotel. Certainly sounds like a terrible night, and the Nuggets didn’t have a great first experience this season back in Portland a month or so ago when they got blown out and lost 99-82. Gary Harris didn’t play in that game and it was also one of Nikola Jokic’s worse games of the season as he scored just six points in 35 minutes of action.
The Trail Blazers currently hold a record of 16-15 which places them in a three-way tie with the Thunder and Nuggets for the fifth seed in the West. The Nuggets have record of 16-15, but sit in seventh place in the West by virtue of tiebreakers with the Thunder and Trail Blazers. A win Friday night in Portland could not only end a long losing streak, but would certainly help the Nuggets in the Western Conference standings. The Nuggets last two games have been two tough defeats to two strong opponents in the Thunder and T-Wolves, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier in Portland on Friday night.
The Trail Blazers will be without star point guard Damian Lillard though as he will be held out with a hamstring injury.
Damian Lillard will be sidelined with hamstring injury when the Blazers host the Nuggets on Friday | https://t.co/j8vVRET8Vs
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 22, 2017
Portland is currently led on offense by Lillard who is averaging 25.2 points per game and also leads the Trail Blazers in assists per game with 6.4. The Trail Blazers second leading scorer is CJ McCollum who is averaging 21 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from behind the three-point line. Jusuf Nurkic is the only other Trail Blazer who averages double-figures scoring 15 points per game and also leads the Blazers in rebounding with 7.7 per game. Nurkic was very aggressive in the two teams first match-up and seemed to be going after Nikola Jokic with a purpose in the post. The Nuggets are still without Paul Millsap and will have a tough task trying to stop the Bosnian Beast in the post.
The Denver Nuggets leading scorer is Gary Harris who is averaging 16.1 points per game and also leads the team in steals with 1.9 per game. Harris missed the Nuggets last game against the T-Wolves with a right elbow contusion and is listed as “questionable” for the Nuggets game Friday night. According to an interview on Altitude AM 950, Harris plans to play tomorrow night in Portland.
QUOTABLE: "I feel a lot better then I did the last few days and I am looking forward to being back against Portland." — @thats_G_
— Altitude 950 (@Altitude950) December 21, 2017
Considering the quote is coming from Harris himself, it’s a good sign to be optimistic that the Nuggets will get one of their best players back against the Blazers. As far as other injuries go, Emmanuel Mudiay is listed as questionable with a right ankle sprain and we should get an update on his status at Nuggets morning shoot around on Friday. Mudiay did some stuff prior to the Nuggets game against the T-Wolves on Monday, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll be able to give it a go.
Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) won’t play tonight but I’d say the prospects of him suiting up Friday in Portland are good. He’s moving well. pic.twitter.com/ePSDYS9DNQ
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) December 21, 2017
Stay tuned to Dig In Denver for postgame coverage.