With two more tune-up games before the real deal, the Trail Blazers are on the road to face the Denver Nuggets Wednesday and Friday night.
Portland is now 1-1 in the preseason after splitting games with the Sacramento Kings last week.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts says he plans to ramp up his players’ minutes during these final exhibition games.
“I’d like to extend the minutes of our rotation players and I’m not saying it’s a game rotation, but I think you’ll see both games with the minutes extended a little bit more,” Stotts said after Tuesday’s practice.
Coach Stotts also mentioned that Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons will make the trip to Denver. Collins is continuing to rehab his left ankle, while Simons suffered a hamstring injury during last Friday’s preseason contest against the Kings.
Collins isn’t expected to be cleared to play until mid- Jan., while it’s unclear if Simons will be able to play Wednesday in Denver.
“An issue that merits some thought as the Trail Blazers hit the halfway point of a brief exhibition schedule:
The real meaning of the kind of depth the team is expected to have this season isn’t confined to random bench scoring. Sure, Portland ought to be able to handle injuries to starters easier this season, too, with talent on the bench that is capable of starting for other teams in the league.
Carmelo Anthony, Enes Kanter, Gary Trent Jr., Rodney Hood and, when healthy, Zach Collins, all fit into that category. Others might, too.
But perhaps more important than that, the depth provides Coach Terry Stotts the opportunity to lighten the load on his starting lineup. There is no reason for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to be among the league leaders in minutes played this season if the roster is healthy. Same with Jusuf Nurkic -- who must be rested and ready for the postseason for this team to have its best chance to win.
I know, the words "load management" send some people into a frenzy.
But one of the biggest barriers to playoff success for the Trail Blazers over the last several years has been that the team has had to work so hard to either make the playoffs or to get the seeding it wants that players are not fully rested for a long playoff run.
That must change if the vision is a trip to the conference finals or even the NBA Finals.”
Read more from Dwight here.
The Blazers are a +4 against the Nuggets Wednesday, odds provided by our partner PointsBet.
Here’s what you need to know about theBlazers and Nuggets matchup --
- Last Season: The Nuggets won the season series against the Trail Blazers in 2019-20, 3-1.
- Damian Lillard scored a whopping 45 points (13-21 FG, 11-18 3-PT, 8-10 FT) to go along with four rebounds, 12 assists and three steals to lead Portland past Denver in the Orlando Bubble on Aug. 6.
- CJ McCollum averaged 15.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in four games against the Nuggets last season.
- Facing his former team on Aug. 6 during the NBA restart, Jusuf Nurkic notched 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
- Michael Porter Jr. scored 27 points (10-18 FG, 4-7 3-PT, 3-3 FT) to go with 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals against Portland on Aug. 6.
POINT SPREAD: -- Trail Blazers: +4 (-110) -- Kings -4 (-110)
HOW TO WATCH:
When: Wednesday, December 16
Where: Pepsi Center | Denver, CO
Start time: 6:00 p.m. PT
TV channel: NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers
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