Trail Blazers vs Nuggets Sunday, 04/14/13 AT 02:00PM

Trail Blazers Look To Snap Streak, Even Series In Denver

04/13/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 4.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    On Sunday afternoon, the Trail Blazers (33-45) will have another opportunity at snapping their current 10-game losing streak when they take on the Denver Nuggets (54-25). Tip-off is set for 2PM and it will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM. A Portland win win would even the season series between the two teams.


      •    The Trail Blazers are simply looking to get good vibes heading into the offseason and stop this losing streak. Despite the fact that they played a great game against the Lakers and there were some good performances against the Thunder, the Trail Blazers are only concerned with one thing: getting a win. No matter who you asked after their 106-90 loss to the Thunder on Friday night, their only concern is getting a win. Of the three games left, this one might seem like the toughest one on the schedule. The Nuggets have the NBA's best home record at 36-3 in 39 games and winning on the road certainly has been a struggle for the Trail Blazers. The Nuggets are certainly a different team since they lost arguably their best one-on-one scorer in Danilo Gallinari last week to a torn ACL. The French rookie Evan Fournier has been given more minutes in Gallinari's absence, playing 16.7 minutes per game and shooting 37.5 percent from three.  The Nuggets have also been relying upon Wilson Chandler even more, starting him in Gallo's place. Also, Ty Lawson was out for eight games with plantar fasciitis and made his comeback on Friday in a road loss to the Mavericks, coming off the bench, playing 19 minutes, scoring 13 points and dishing three assists. The Nuggets have a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers for the third-seed in the Western Conference.
     
      •    After the Trail Blazers loss on Friday, Eric Maynor was predicting "a track meet" against the Nuggets and the last two games have been just that, with the Nuggets catching the breaks at the end of each one. The first match-up, the Nuggets made only one shot outside of the painted area and went 0-23 from three-point range The second match-up was a dandy that went into overtime with the Nuggets coming out on top at on their home floor by the score of 115-111. In the most recent match-up, the Trail Blazers played well all game, but the Nuggets were able to out play them in the fourth quarter. When the game was tied at 106 with 24-seconds left, Andre Miller pulled a veteran move shaking JJ Hickson in the post to get what was the go-ahead lay-up giving the Nuggets a two-point lead and the Trail Blazers were not able to make plays on the offensive end to win the game. Since the Gallinari injury, the Nuggets have actually played at an even faster pace, averaging 100.4 possessions over the last three games since the injury.
       
    •    With more minutes, Will Barton is continuing to produce for the Trail Blazers. Barton has been given more and more minutes over the last four games as the season reaches it's end and Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum have had to sit with injuries. Since the Houston game on April 5th, Barton averaging 30 minutes a game over that stretch as well as 14.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, three assists and nearly two steals per game over that stretch while shooting 45 percent from the field. The game on Sunday will certainly be an open-court affair that should play into Barton's strengths. Without Matthews' three-point shooting and Nicolas Batum, having Barton who has proven to be a good finisher in transition over the last few games will certainly help in keeping pace with the Nuggets.
      
     •    Another player who should look to take advantage of the type of game it is is Damian Lillard. Dame had a great game against the Nuggets in their last match-up in late February, scoring 26 points to go along with four assists on 14 shots. Lillard was very efficient, going four of six from the three-point line and going six for eight from the line. Andre Miller is a tough player to guard (and someone David Thorpe says Lillard should study), but he is not as taxing as the speedy Lawson and it's unclear how much action Lawson will get after only playing 19:06 against the Mavericks on Friday night. Should Miller get the start, Dame should be able to get to his spots, especially in this type of open court affair. Something hopefully Lillard will be able to help with in this match-up that hurt them in the previous one is keeping their turnovers down. They had 19 turnovers in their 111-109 at home and the Nuggets scored 26 points off those turnovers.

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