The Portland Trail Blazers could not take advantage of six days of rest, dropping Game 1 of their best-of-seven second-round series against the Denver Nuggets. In total, he finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists.
After taking almost a week off from scrimmaging and playing games, and with just one day to prepare for an entirely different style, the Blazers left the Pepsi Center in a daze. He made 11 of 18 shots and all 12 of his free throws to go with nine boards and a half dozen assists.
"Everything", Denver forward Paul Millsap said when asked what defenses are trying to do that isn't working against Jokic. "He picks it up". "We've got to make him see bodies, we've got to be physical, we've got to be ready to help on the post and get back to our man". He didn't force anything and took what Portland gave him. He makes the right play every time.
But if you've watched these games, you know it's really hard to make a pick against the spread with much confidence. He's like a quarterback out there. "I consider him like a Tom Brady".
Carter said at his exit interview following this season, his first with the Hawks in a storied career, that he always gives his current team the initial opportunity to re-sign him. But the Nuggets play a completely different brand of basketball. "Obviously you're anxious about guarding them but how would we react from that emotional hangover?" Throw in the fact that these two teams have gone 7-2 to the over in their last nine head to head meetings at the Pepsi Center and that's where we'll have our play as we expect both teams to try to push the pace a bit in Denver on Wednesday night.
Denver: The Nuggets were coming off a 2-for-20 performance from 3-point range Saturday night.
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Enes Kanter didn't even think about his sore left shoulder as he soared in for a first-quarter dunk and hung from the rim with his left hand. "But I think I am capable of reading those defenses".
Although Nurkic was not at the Blazers' Game 5 win over the Thunder which clinched their spot in the second round early on, he chose to come during the second half.
That's exactly the kind of mettle Malone was looking for from his team, the youngest in the West.
However, unlike the streaky Spurs, the Trail Blazers have been dominant since early March, avoiding consecutive losses during an 18-5 SU run, including an 11-1 run on home hardwood, and wasted no time disposing of the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games in the opening round.
"Enes was terrific", Blazers coach Terry Stotts said of his center who was battling a sore shoulder.
If Jokic is much better than he was Sunday, Portland could be in for a long series.
"My team had a lot of faith in me tonight", said Butler, who scored just 10 points in game one.