The semifinals series matchup between the No. 2-seeded Denver Nuggets and the No. 3-seeded Portland Trail Blazers opened up with a bang as the Nuggets defeated the Blazers, 121-113, in Game 1 on Monday night.
The Nuggets took a 58-55 lead heading into halftime and the game was relatively close throughout, but Denver kept the lead and controlled the tempo for most of the night. Nikola Jokic continued his stellar postseason debut by leading the way with 37 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals. He was complimented by Jamal Murray's 23-point and eight assist performance and Paul Millsap's 17-point outburst in the first half.
Damian Lillard put on a superhuman performance with 39 points, but it wasn't enough to offset the Nuggets' trio in the opening game of this series.
Here is everything you need to know about what happened during this high-scoring Game 1.
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Jokic comes up big again
Nikola Jokic turned in a postseason series debut for the ages when he led the Nuggets to a seven-game series win over the veteran-laden San Antonio Spurs. The 24-year-old averaged 23.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game while posting a triple-double in Game 7 -- the only player in NBA history along with Magic Johnson and LeBron James to produce multiple triple-doubles in their first career playoffs.
The 7-foot center did it again in Game 1 versus the Blazers as he produced 37 points on an effective 11-of-18 from the field and a perfect 12-of-12 from the free-throw line. More importantly, he scored 15 points in the decisive third quarter which gave the Nuggets a commanding 93-84 lead heading into the final period.
The Nuggets have some nice role players, but they will only go as far as their Serbian big man takes them. So far, so good during this 2019 postseason.
Nuggets' supporting cast silences doubters
The Nuggets are often seen as a one-man team, with people only thinking about Jokic. However, the supporting cast for Denver -- namely Murray and Millsap -- showed up big in this matchup versus Portland.
It was Millsap who set the tone with Jokic early in the first half, scoring 17 points to lead all scorers in the opening 24 minutes of action. Seven of nine players on the Nuggets' roster produced positive numbers in the plus/minus rating department while Mason Plumlee provided a big-time energy boost by leading all players with five steals and this authoritative dunk to seal the game.
Furthermore, the pick-and-roll duo of Murray and Jokic created major problems for the Blazers in this opening game. It's the key adjustment that Portland will have to make moving forward if they are to have a chance at upending the Nuggets in this series.
The rotation outside of Jokic may not feature household names, but they're a major reason why the Nuggets are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Lillard is superhuman -- again
We all know that Damian Lillard has been the star of the 2019 NBA playoffs so far. He just about single-handedly carried the Blazers to a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and hit the coldest buzzer-beater in NBA postseason history when he eliminated OKC with a near half-court shot over the reach of the 6-foot-9 Paul George.
There was a lot of hype surrounding Lillard entering this series and he didn't disappoint -- he scored 39 points to lead all players and he did it on a ridiculous 12-of-21 from the field. However, it was for naught as Jokic himself turned in an excellent performance to offset the All-Star point guard's own stellar stat line.
After his Game 1 performance against the Nuggets, Lillard is now averaging 34.8 points per game this postseason -- just 0.2 points behind Kevin Durant for the postseason lead.
No. 2 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers
How to watch Game 2
- Date: Wednesday, May 1
- Time: 9:00 p.m.
- Location: Pepsi Center -- Denver, Colorado
- TV channel: TNT
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Online streaming: fuboTV (try it for free)
- Odds: N/A
All games will air on ESPN, ABC, TNT and NBA TV during the postseason. Games on TNT and NBA TV can be streamed via fuboTV (try it for free).
Odds and Analysis
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