The No. 6 seed Portland Trail Blazers handled the No. 3 seed Denver Nuggets with relative ease in Game 1 of the series, taking a 123-109 win. The Nuggets entered the playoffs without star guard Jamal Murray due to an ACL injury, but still have MVP favorite Nikola Jokic and Most Improved Player finalist Michael Porter Jr. to lean on. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were excellent in Portland’s Game 1 win.
Below is a look at a number of predictions ahead of Monday night’s game for the Free $5k DraftKings Pools - Playoff Edition (DEN-POR).
Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers play-in tournament pool picks
Which team will cover the spread? Nuggets -1.5 or Trail Blazers +1.5
Expect the Nuggets to bounce back in Game 2. They can’t afford to go to Portland down 2-0 in the series. Jokic and Porter Jr. played well in Game 1, but need more from the bench. Expect Denver to win the game, making Nuggets -1.5 the choice here.
Total points scored? O/U 227.5 points
The over hit in Game 1 and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t hit again in Game 2. Both teams have high-scoring offenses with dynamic stars capable of getting hot. Even at 227.5, this number seems low. The over is the play.
Which team will reach 30 points first? Nuggets or Trail Blazers
Even though the Trail Blazers pulled away in this game, the Nuggets held their own early. Portland hit 30 points first on Carmelo Anthony’s jumper, but Denver was at 28. In a game the Nuggets have to win to maintain some type of footing in the series, expect them to come out hot. Take Denver to hit 30 first.
Which team will score the most 3-pointers? Nuggets or Trail Blazers
The Nuggets took 36 3-pointers in Game 1 while the Trail Blazers attempted 40. Portland converted almost 50 percent of its attempts while Denver hit 30.6 percent. Expect some regression to the mean to occur. The volume will be about equal, but the Nuggets should shoot better in Game 2. Take them to score more 3-pointers, but this will be a very close call.
Which of these players will finish the with most points, rebounds, and assists? C.J. McCollum or Michael Porter Jr.
Porter Jr. is a bucket. He’s going to light up the scoreboard, but he’s not going to tally many assists. McCollum is similar as a score-first guard, but he’ll pass his way into some assists. The rebounding will be key and Porter Jr. has the edge. After his dismal performance from behind the arc in Game 1, expect the forward to bounce back in Game 2. Take Porter Jr. for this bet.
Total points for Damian Lilliard? O/U 28.5 points
Even with the Trail Blazers getting strong contributions from their supporting cast in Game 1, Lillard is the key. He’s going to take a majority of Portland’s shots and command most of the ball in this series. The Nuggets will want to do a better job on him after letting him go for 34 in the opener. 28.5 is a good number, but the under seems like a safer pick.
Total points + rebounds + assists for Nikola Jokic? O/U 48.5
Jokic combined for 51 points, rebounds and assists in Game 1. He’ll be tasked with carrying Denver again in Game 2, but the Nuggets will stress contributions from other players. The bench should also do better than it did in Game 2. Jokic is a fantastic player and the MVP frontrunner for a reason. 48.5 is just above his season averages (45.5) and I believe the Nuggets will strive for more balance in Game 2. Take the under if you want to take any bet at all here.
Total 3-pointers made by Michael Porter Jr.? O/U 3.5
As mentioned above, Porter Jr. should bounce back from his 1-10 performance from deep. In his last 11 regular season games, Porter Jr. was shooting 45.2 percent on an average of 7.6 attempts per game. The volume is going to be there and bettors should expect his shooting form to rebound. The over is a good bet here.
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