Trail Blazers

Instant Analysis: Blazers blowout Nuggets in regular season finale

Trail Blazers
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That's a wrap on the 2020-21 NBA regular season.

As the Portland Trail Blazers hosted the Denver Nuggets in Sunday’s finale, Portland put on a three-point show in front of the limited Moda Center crowd. Portland started the game hitting 9-for-15 from behind the arc.

At the end of the first quarter, the Blazers held a 43-22 lead.

It didn’t take long to realize that the Nuggets didn’t have as much incentive to win Sunday with their playoff positioning.

However, that didn’t mean Nuggets MVP candidate Nikola Jokic wasn’t going to still pad his stats.   

After taking a 72-55 halftime lead, the Blazers cruised to a 132-116 victory to improve to 42-30 on the season.

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With the victory and a Clippers loss, the Trail Blazers will have secured the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings as long as the Lakers and Mavericks' scores hold. Portland will face the No. 3 seeded Denver Nuggets.

 

The Blazers biggest lead on the night was 27.

FINAL BOX SCORE: Trail Blazers 132, Nuggets 116 

The Nuggets were without Will Barton (right hamstring; strain), PJ Dozier (right adductor; strain) and Jamal Murray (left ACL; surgery). 

The Good: 

From the jump, CJ McCollum had it clicking from deep. McCollum notched 11 points in the first quarter after hitting 3-of-5 from three. And, when McCollum wasnt breaking ankles, he was finding his teammates. McCollums night ended with 24 points and five assists.

Portlands offense was gelling all night, but they also had active hands on the other end. The Blazers forced three quick turnovers early.

Through the first half, Portland shot 55.8 percent from the field and went an efficient 10-of-21 from three.

And just when it looked like it was going to be the McCollum and Damian Lillard scoring clinic, Jusuf Nurkic showed his dominance in the paint. Early in the third quarter, Nurkic led the Blazers in scoring with 20. The Blazers starting center finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

The Bad: 

Many wondered if Nikola Jokic would even play on Sunday night.

He did.

 

But just the first half.

In his first 10 minutes of action, Jokic went 5-of-9 from the field for 12 points. He had more than half of the Nuggets first-quarter points. In his 17 minutes of play on the night, Jokic recorded 21 points and three rebounds.  

The Highlight:

CJ McCollum was feeling it Sunday night:

The Stat: 

With a 24-foot step-back three at the 10:07 mark of the first quarter, Damian Lillard broke his own franchise record for three-pointers made in a season with his 271st three of the season.

Next up: It's still unofficial, but if the Lakers and Mavericks scores hold true, the Blazers will face the Nuggets in the first round.