Blazers

NBA Playoffs: No. 6 Trail Blazers set to play No. 3 Nuggets

Blazers
IMAGN / NBCSNW

Portland entered Sunday needing just a win or a Los Angeles Lakers loss to avoid the play-in tournament and play in the NBA Playoffs for the eighth consecutive season.

With a win over the Denver Nuggets in the regular-season finale, the Blazers did just that, clinching a playoff berth in the process.

"It's going to be a competitive series," head coach Terry Stotts said after the win Sunday. "This game was not indicative of either team, per se. It should be pretty interesting."

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

But, the Los Angeles Clippers lost the Oklahoma City Thunder giving Denver the third seed in the West due to the Nuggets having the tiebreaker.

Dallas clinched the fifth seed despite losing to Minnesota because they won their division.

Portland will take on the likely MVP in Nikola Jokic along with stellar wings Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon. The team will not have Jamal Murray who tore his ACL earlier this season. 

Heading into Sunday, Denver was 13-4 in games since Murray tore his ACL, posting a 5.2 net rating in those contests (116.3 offensive rating, 111.1 defensive rating). 

While it looked like the Blazers may be competing for the eighth seed for an advantage in the play-in tournament after the team lost 9-of-11 games, including five straight at home, before six-game road trip.

However, the Blazers turned the season back on the road, going 5-1 on the road trip, and finishing the regular season winning 10-of-12 games. 

 

A large part of Portland's success was Terry Stotts shortening the rotation to just eight players, bringing just Enes Kanter, Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons off the bench.

Heading into the regular season finale, the Blazers had a 12.5 net rating in its previous 11 games including a 123.5 offensive rating (which is six points higher than the Nets NBA-leading 117.2 offensive rating). 

The defense also improved allowing just a 111.0 defensive rating (15th in the NBA during this stretch). 

The schedule is not immediately available, so check back for updates!