DENVER – Both the Trail Blazers and Nuggets were expected to square off in the Western Conference semifinal given their playoff seeding, but many people would not have expected this series to be so evenly matched through the first four games.
Yet on Tuesday night in Game 5 it was all Nuggets.
Denver jumped out too an early lead and really never looked back. The Nuggets biggest lead on the night was 31 as Denver cruised to a 124-98 victory over the Blazers.
Statistically, the team that wins Game 5 wins the entire series 82.4% of the time. The Blazers have been doubted since the start of the season though and yet here they are, so you know Portland will not go down without a fight.
Rapid Reaction: The Denver Nuggets beat the Blazers in blowout fashion, 124-98, to take a 3-2 series lead. Now it’s win or go home for the Blazers. @dwightjaynes and @JamieHudsonNBCS break it down from Denver. #RipCity #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/4YzPiqMBKd
Rapid Reaction: The Denver Nuggets beat the Blazers in blowout fashion, 124-98, to take a 3-2 series lead. Now it’s win or go home for the Blazers. @dwightjaynes and @JamieHudsonNBCS break it down from Denver. #RipCity #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/4YzPiqMBKd— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) May 8, 2019
Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 5 loss:
1. Nuggets bring the energy right out of the gate
Portland called a timeout at the 8:35 mark of the first quarter to talk things over after Denver got out to a quick 9-2 start.
The Blazers missed their first five shots, while the Nuggets started 3-of-7 and looked like the team with a little extra pep in their step.
Whether it was the battle on the boards or the hustle plays to grab the loose ball, the Nuggets were the ones to come up with the ball more often than not in the first half.
Will Barton -- you don’t call him ‘Thrill’ for nothing-- brought even more spunk off the bench in the second quarter. At halftime, Barton was tied with the best plus/minus on the floor with Paul Millsap (+18). His energy was contagious on both ends of the floor for Denver. The Nuggets held a commanding 65-47 lead at the break.
2. “You’ve got to make your free throws”
Neither team could really get in a good flow on offense early. There were plenty of interruptions with the whistles being blown.
And as the forever voice of the Trail Blazers Bill Schonely would say, “you’ve got to make your free throws.” The first half would’ve been a lot closer if Portland had been able to knock down more of its free throws.
As a team, the Blazers were 8-for-14 from the charity strip through the first two quarters. It was quite the opposite for Denver. The Nuggets went 14-of-16.
It didn't get any better in the second half either and the Blazers ended with a 53.5% from the free throw line.
3. Millsap had his way with different defenders
With the tandem of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic demanding so much attention, the Blazers defensive focus is often on those two and rightfully so.
But, that made way for Nuggets starting power forward Paul Millsap in Game 5.
The Blazers threw a number of defenders at Millsap on Tuesday night as they have done throughout this series. When Enes Kanter was guarding Millsap he was able to blow by Kanter on the wing. Evan Turner was able to slow down Millsap but since ET only played four minutes in non-garbage time, that was a rare matchup.
NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Nuggets will tip-off Game 6 in Portland on Thursday night at 7:30pm. You can catch our pregame coverage at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Trail Blazers on your device.