Basketball’s back: Blazers begin 50th season with home opener

Sports

The Blazers play the Nuggets at 7 p.m. on Wednesday

CJ McCollum, Trey Lyles_571961

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, right, dribbles past Denver Nuggets forward Trey Lyles during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Trail Blazers are hitting the hardwood for their 50th season with a home opener against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.

To kick the 2019-2020 season off, the Blazers will be playing on their 50th-anniversary court for the very first time, which was given a “retro” look to commemorate the franchise’s history.

The Portland Trail Blazers 50th-anniversary court for the 2019-2020 season. (Portland Trail Blazers)

Opening Game

Portland is starting the season against a team they’ve grown quite familiar with. The most recent match-up between the Blazers and Nuggets was in a preseason game on Oct. 17 when Denver beat Portland 110-104 — granted it was just a preseason game.

However, when people think of Denver vs. Portland, most people think of last year’s Western Conference Semi-Finals.

The Blazers beat out the Nuggets when they took the last 2 games of the series, barely slipping through Denver’s fingers. Portland went on to lose in the Western Conference Finals against Golden State.

With the memory of last season’s loss still fresh in their minds, Denver does have the potential to come out with a vengeance on Wednesday.

But, the Blazers are still looking like the better team with their starting 5 more or less intact.

The team has made playoffs for the last 6 years and last season they finally felt the triumph of reaching the Western Conference Finals. This year, they’ll be aiming even higher — hoping to reach that elusive championship series.

Check out these photos from the last regular-season meeting between the Blazers and Nuggets

The Season Ahead

Looking forward to the rest of the season, the Blazers face a wide-open conference for the first time in years.

The Warriors are not the team they have been. Between Kevin Durant’s departure to Brooklyn and Klay Thompson’s injury that will likely cause him to miss most if not all of the season, the powerhouse that has caused so many problems for Portland is finally knocked down a few pegs.

Over in Los Angeles, the Clippers might finally see the success they’ve been grasping at in recent years. With this summer’s landmark trade that led them to acquire a Kawhi Leonard and Paul George duo, fans are on the edge of their seats waiting to see if the team — and their 2 new stars — can live up to the hype.

Will the Blazers win over or under 50 games this year?
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When it comes to Portland, Rose City does not have to worry about their backcourt. Blazers poster child Damian Lillard is here to stay, as is shooting stud CJ McCollum.

Although the team’s core has mostly stayed the same, Portland did undergo a bit of a shake-up of their own this offseason with smaller additions to the team, including veteran big-man Pau Gasol. However, Gasol has not yet been cleared to play due to a foot injury — and there’s still no timetable for return.

With Gasol, the Blazers have just added to their list of injured centers on the roster. They’re still waiting on power forward Juruf Nurkic to be cleared after breaking his leg last season.

In Gasol’s place will likely be fellow big-man Hassan Whiteside or even Zach Collins, which would give the young Collins a chance to further prove himself as an indisposable asset.

Overall, the Blazers are looking at some great opportunities this season with one of the league’s best (healthy) backcourts and some fresh faces added to the mix.

Tip-off against the Nuggets is set for 7 p.m. against on Wednesday night. Catch AJ McCord’s pregame report at 5:30 on-air or online!

Follow along with AJ McCord, Marcus Greaves and Adam Bjaranson for complete coverage throughout the season.

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