It’s that time of year again, where notable reporters and commentators give their playoff predictions.
For Portland, they’re usually viewed as the underdogs from the notable media personalities.
Well, this time around against the Nuggets, it seems as if they’re getting a fair shake.
“This is going to be a great series," Jalen Rose said. "And this is a clash of a couple of styles in a lot of ways. They’re going to be needed at least 55, and in certain games 65, in order for their team to be competitive. Dame has been terrific shooting the Portland Trail Blazers higher in the seeding as the season progressed. They’re going to need Nurkic to also ball.”
ESPN personalities were split 9-9 on a series prediction. The majority of the voters think the series will go seven games either way.
The Athletic spoke with one scout, coach, and executive on the series. Both the executive and coach believe Portland has a serious shot at upsetting the reigning Western Conference Finals finalists.
The coach: “I think Portland has pretty good collective experience together. I think they’re hitting their stride at the right time. They’ve won 10 out of 12, and I think Denver is going to really, really struggle to guard Dame (Lillard). I love Joker, and I think he’s one of the top MVP candidates. But I think he’s going to get exposed in pick-and-roll coverage, and I think it’s a terrible matchup for Denver. If (Portland’s Jusuf) Nurkic can stay out of foul trouble, I think they’re going to have a really good chance to be able to win the series.”
The executive: “Jokic is top one or two (in the) MVP voting. Everything is going to run through him. And what he’s done, and what (Michael) Malone has helped figure out the last month and a half without their dudes, has been super impressive.
“I just think the Blazers’ firepower at the two guard spots, and the continuity around those guys and knowing who they are, is going to trump that — barely. I’ll take the Blazers in seven. They obviously have confidence against this Nuggets team as well, winning in seven a couple years back. I think it’s going to be a dogfight, but I’ll go (with the) Blazers in seven.”
Of all of the first-round series, Blazers vs. Nuggets comes off as one of the few series where the winner isn’t already predetermined.
Curiosity like that is what makes the playoffs so interesting because the unpredictability leads to intrigue.