PORTLAND, Ore, (KOIN) — The Portland Trail Blazers’ season has come to an end after falling to the Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the first round series 126-115 on Thursday night.
Here are six takeaways from the Blazers’ season ending loss:
1. Blazers weathered Porter Jr. storm in the first quarter
While the Blazers played fantastic defense in the first quarter, they did have a hard time defending Michael Porter Jr. Porter came out and dropped an impressive 22 points in the first quarter and really kept the Nuggets in this game. Without his first quarter heroics, the Nuggets could have found themselves down big. With that being said, the Blazers also did a great job of not overreacting. No shots were forced and even though Porter had 22, they did a great job of shutting down everyone else and weathering a first quarter barrage from Porter to hold onto the lead.
2. First half bench scoring for Blazers
A stat that has proved to be the difference maker in this series has been bench scoring. Whichever team’s bench can come in and contribute the most, that team wins. The Blazers bench did a great job in the first half opening a distance from Denver’s bench 18 to 12. Spearheaded by slam dunk champion and sharp shooter Anfernee Simons, the bench came out and really set the tone and played with a sense of urgency and showed that they were not going to let Denver’s bench outplay them.
3. Jokic showed why he is MVP material
The Blazers did a fantastic job in the first half slowing down MVP front runner Nikola Jokic. When the second half came around though, they found themselves having big problems slowing him down. Jokic didn’t have more than 15 points in the first half, but ended up finishing the game with 36 points and a second half that shattered the Blazers hopes to move to the second round.
4. Blazers have a rough third quarter
The Blazers had all the momentum right out of the half, but Denver found a way to fight back and close the Blazers lead from 12 to only one. From there, the Blazers momentum was shot and they just couldn’t recover. The third quarter was what started the shift for the Blazers and led to the season ending loss.
5. Tough shooting night for CJ
In the most crucial game of the season, CJ McCollum struggled big time when it came to shooting. He started the game off hot, but after a very solid first quarter, he really struggled the rest of the way. Whatever the problem may be, he just hasn’t seemed like himself this series. In Game 6, was just 2-8 from the 3-point range and missed shot after shot that he usually knocks down.
6. Late game play from Blazers
Between the numerous questionable calls from the officiating, the scoring drought, and turnovers, the Blazers dug themselves a nearly impossible hole to get out of, being down by as much as nine points late in the fourth quarter. The Blazers did fight their way back to within three, but they just couldn’t overcome the deficit and fell short in Game 6 to the Nuggets.