2021 NBA Playoff Preview
(Ariel Stull / Vendetta Sports Media)

The Joker vs Dame D.O.L.L.A

Vendetta’s 2021 NBA Playoff Preview series continues by taking a look at the matchup between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers just beat out the Los Angeles Lakers for the 6th spot and are rewarded with a tough matchup against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets. Can Dame pull the rabbit out of his hat once again and pull Portland into a deep playoff run? Or will the Joker stop them in their tracks?

Why The Nuggets Win The Series

Jokic has been playing at an MVP level this season. He leads the Nuggets in nearly every statistical category and it is extremely rare for him to have an off night. Jokic does not get the respect he deserves on the defensive end on the ball. His passing rivals that of any guard in the league. The Nuggets will ride and die on the back of the Joker, but the supporting cast is also amazing.

Ever since Jamal Murray went down for the season, Michael Porter Jr. has stepped up as the secondary scoring option for Denver. Porter had a lot of question marks when he first came to the league because of injury, but he now looks like a steal. I won’t go as far as some have calling him the next Kevin Durant, but he still is a good player. Aaron Gordon has fit in like a glove with this team. His efficiency since Murray’s injury has slipped, but he was a nice mid-season pick-up in a trade with the Orlando Magic. Gordon is effective when cutting to the basket while Jokic has the ball and can hit the occasional 3.

The other role players can produce as well. I honestly trust someone like JaMychal Green and Will Barton more than I can Portland’s role players. But this series will be more defined by the stars than by role players.

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Why the Trail Blazers Will Win

Lillard single handedly willed this team into their current position. It’s because of Dame some dude is getting to keep his house because Portland won 42 games. Would love to see that ticket.

Dame is gonna produce. That’s not Portland’s problem. What they need is for CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic to show up. If all three stars can get on the same page and play at their best, it’s hard to bet against Portland. The Trailblazers also made a deadline trade in getting Normal Powell in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. I love Powell. I think he’s an excellent support guy and one of the best in the NBA to fill that role. If one of the main three for Portland is having an off night, but Powell is able to get it going, then Portland will put up one heck of a fight.

The Nuggets can shoot, but the Trailblazers have shooters. Dame, McCollum, and Powell can drain it from beyond the arc. Getting hot and staying hot from 3 is going to be key for the Trailblazers. Nurkic doesn’t have to stop Jokic, just slow him down. Use the shooting advantage, swing the ball and let it fly.

Prediction

In the end, I have the feeling the Nuggets pull away and win the series. McCollum can disappear for long stretches. Beyond Powell, there is no one I trust on Portland’s roster. Jokic is hands down the MVP this year and will prove why in these playoffs. Any way you look at it, this is a tough matchup for both teams. Nothing is ever easy in the West. However far you make it in the playoffs is earned. The Nuggets will earn a tough series win over Portland in 6. Make sure to stay tuned for more of our 2021 NBA Playoff Preview series!

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