Nikola Jokic took the upper hand again and repeated his motto for these NBA playoffs in 2021: “No one can take the fight away from us”. The Serbian led with 36 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists the Denver Nuggets went to the Conference Semifinals after beating the Portland Trail Blazers 115-126 in the sixth game of the tie.
The Nuggets look to repeat and improve the successes of their last season, when they reached the Conference Finals against a Los Angeles Lakers who just collapsed against their next rivals, the Phoenix Suns of Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
These playoffs will give way to a new league champion, and the leading regular season MVP candidate wants to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Denver had to wait a short time to meet his next rival after Eliminate a Damian Lillard from the video game who, despite his individual excellence and as a teammate, showed that the most important thing to win is have a good team around you.
His 55 points and 12 triples from the fifth game were of no use, and they were of no use neither did the 28 points and 13 assists last night. The Portland star said goodbye with a hug to Jokic and acknowledging the superiority of a better braided and more matured outfit.
The Blazers had it all up front at home, at the Moda Center in Oregon, to force the seventh in Denver. They blew a 14-point lead in the third quarter and they watched as the Nuggets ran over them in the fourth quarter with a 14-28 run.
Mount morris closed the third quarter with a triple that put the 101-98 on the scoreboard, and Jokic advanced for the first time on the scoreboard to the Nuggets with a triple that made it 106-108. The visitors kept pushing and Austin rivers gave another machado of three with the 108-117 in the absence of four minutes for the conclusion.
The Blazers tried to wake up from the hand of Lillard and CJ McCollum, his best ally with 21 points, but then the latest stellar addition of the Nuggets appeared, Aaron Gordon, and cooled the game with a 3-pointer that sent Portland on vacation one minute from the end.
Denver survived the first quarter thanks to the incredible start of Michael Porter Jr., who plugged in 22 of his 26 total points in the opening period. The eaves, with six hit triples in the fourth, he equaled the most targets in a playoff period of the NBA.
Portland had an excellent first half thanks to major adjustments: Jusuf Nurkic defended without being charged with fouls Jokic, but in the third his game collapsed after accumulating four fouls and being forced to go to the bench.
There the Nuggets took advantage to do damage, with Morris (22) and Green (10) contributing from the bench. Gordon finished with 13 points and Rivers added 7. The Argentine Facundo Campazzo ended up with 10 points and 3 assists in 23 minutes of game. The complete meeting of the Portland secondary, with six players in double digits, was not enough for the locals to extend the tie.
To close its season of much epic but few nuts, Lillard plugged a triple over the horn to put the Blazers 68-61 ahead and ignite the Moda Center’s dedicated crowd. The point guard was chosen by the league players as the Partner of the Year, an award that recognizes “the leadership, dedication and commitment of the player towards the team”.
It is an insufficient prize for Dame, a beautiful recognition that does not retaliate of his true ambition: to win the ring for Portland, the team of his life. Denver will try the same despite not being able to count on Jamal Murray, their Canadian star seriously injured.