The Portland Trail Blazers head to Denver to face the Nuggets after a tough loss at Phoenix in their first of three road games. With starters Zach Collins, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic still injured and unable to play, the Trail Blazers have beaten everyone’s odds and expectations as they have maintained a winning schedule. This road trip won’t be easy and the Nuggets will be a solid opponent for Portland.
Tuesday, February 23 at 7:00 pm PT
How to watch on TV: TNT or watch games all season on fuboTV, to follow in ESPN +, wave ESPN / Disney Package*
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), CJ McCollum (out), Harry Giles (out) Nuggets injuries: Greg Whittington (out), Paul Millsap (out), JaMychal Green (out), Gary Harris (out), PJ Dozier (out)
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What to watch
- Denver’s key players. Nikolai Jokic is one of the best players in the league as is. He’s been featured in MVP conversations, and with good reason. Jamal Murray has also been playing very well, especially in his last few games. If their key players heat up, they could be a major problem for Portland.
- Portland Defense. It’s no secret that Portland has struggled defensively this season. While we’ve seen flashes of good defense that we know they are capable of, the Blazers simply haven’t. Denver also struggles with defense and, on paper, they are good offensively, but they have struggled for much of the season. Portland should be able to defend them, and Trail Blazers fans would love to see that.
- Robert Covington. Trail Blazers fans had high hopes for RoCo when Portland acquired him for this season, but those hopes quickly fell short when he appeared to struggle during the start of the season. But Covington has quickly improved immensely and his shooting averages have risen substantially. It has become more and more fun to watch and has become a crucial part of the team.
What others are saying
Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray spoke to the Associated Press about his confidence to make the playoffs.
“It is a long season. I don’t know how many times you have to explain it, ”Murray said. “You ask if we lose games … it’s the end of the world. It’s just basketball. Some days you lose. Some days you win. We know that we can beat the teams that we are supposed to beat. We know we’ll be in the playoffs and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing against. We will do our best “.
The Blazers have managed to stay in the race to the NBA Championship even with much of their starting lineup unable to play due to injury. But this road trip is going to be tough. CBS’s Brad Botkin sums it up:
Portland is not out of the woods yet. McCollum will be reevaluated in a week, and Nurkic is likely to return at least a few weeks. His next three games are against the Suns, Nuggets and Lakers. A five-game losing streak is always right around the corner in the West. But the plan for McCollum and Nurkic to return to a team in the thick of the playoff race, rather than one that dug a huge hole in their absence, is well under way.