The Blazers did not play well in Game 2 but luckily for them Denver played worse and this series is now even as they head to Portland.
Denver Nuggets (1-1) v Portland Trailblazers (1-1): 90-97
For Blazers to win Game 2 they had one thing they needed to do: stop Nikola Jokic.
So that’s what they did.
They held him to 16 points (7-17 shooting) and 7 assists (which for a Jokic is actually lower than his playoff average). Whenever Jokic looked posed to attack, the Blazers would put on a double team and then Jokic would be stuck or kick out and the Nuggets would miss.
In fairness to the Nuggets, they won’t always shoot 21% from 3 and 35% from the field. They are offensively better than that. But on a night where their shots weren’t falling and the Blazers were limiting Jokic, they desperately need a second scoring option. Jamal Murray is usually that option but had 6-18 for 15 points (scoring as many points as Rodney Hood, we will get to him later).
Will Barton continued to really struggle (1-6 from the field), Torrey Craig got a bloody nose and Garry Harris missed all five of his threes.
The only bright spark for the Nuggets was that they had 23 offensive rebounds. That many offensive boards should have accounted for 20-40 points and really given them the edge in this game, but it didn’t. At the end of the day, Denver looked really ugly this game and it is a surprise they were even able to put up 90 points….
Portland did not look much better to be honest. Despite a good game from CJ McCollum with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, Damian Lillard was a non-factor (1-7 from three and finishing with 14 points, which is his lowest in the playoffs) and Mo Harkless was injured in the first half. But… Rodney Hood and Zach Collins were both very solid off the bench, having 15 and 10 points each, hell Hood even got 3 blocks! Zach Collins still needs to learn to defend without fouling (5 fouls in 17 minutes) but for now that bench won them this sloppy game.
The good news for the Blazers is that they managed to limit/ contain Jokic and even with an average game from Lillard, stole the win on the road.
Now they just need to defend home court to push this series in the right direction.
Next game @ Blazers: Saturday (4/5) at 12:30pm.