You know the old sports adage, “men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t.”
With the Blazers and Nuggets pegged to play each other in the first-round for the second time in three seasons, here’s a look at the teams through the numbers.
Recapping the regular-season
The Nuggets won the season- series 2-1, and each game ended by an average of 7.3 points. The closeness of both teams and their high octane offenses gives the impression that each game could easily end over in the 110’s.
A major difference for this series will be Portland being the healthier team, a distinction they could rarely claim over the past few seasons.
Due to a torn ACL, Denver will be without Jamal Murray, their No. 2 in points, assists, and field-goal attempts. In 18 games without him, the team went 13-5, but ended the season 4-4, while Portland enters the second season as the hotter team with a 10-2 record in their last 12 games.
Will Barton, a starter in 52 of Denver’s games, has also been sidelined due to a right hamstring injury.
Postseason play is all about the stars, and this series has one on both sides: Damian Lillard vs. Nikola Jokic.
Both men will likely be on First-Team All-NBA and finish top five in MVP voting.
On the season Lillard averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. Shooting 45.1%, second-highest of his career; 39.1% from three, third-highest of his career; and a career-high 92.8% from the free-throw line.
Against Denver, Dame put up 23 points and 9.3 assists on 43.9% shooting and 36.7% shooting.
As for Jokic, he averaged career-highs across the board with 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists.
In three games against Denver, his numbers were 29 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Outside of his points, his rebounds and assists are steep declines from his season averages.
He’s had his way against Nurkic this season offensively: 31 points on 50% shooting in 13 minutes and 37 seconds vs. Nurk.
The highlight of Jokic's offensive repertoire came in a game in which Nurkic was sidelined and Enes Kanter was the primary defender. He ended up scoring scoring 37 of his 41 points on Feb. 23 against Kanter.
Both teams finished the regular-season top 10 in offensive rating field-goal percentage, three-point percentage, and three-point percentage.
Where they differ is on defense. Denver was 11th in defensive rating, while Portland was second to last and is the only team in the bottom of the category to be in the playoffs. A clear sight of how dependent the team is on their offense, as they were second in offensive rating.
Although Portland isn’t statistically a top-tier defensive team, they do have respected perimeter defenders in Robert Covington. Derrick Jones Jr., and Norman Powell.
Although it’s to predict who may have the advantage because there are significant advantages of both sides. One may more so favor the Blazers simply because they aren't missing significant starters like the Nuggets.