CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4)- The Denver Nuggets return home Tuesday night for a pivotal Game 5 matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers. Thanks to a 116-112 win on Sunday night, the Nuggets hold homecourt advantage in the series tied at two games apiece and set to host Game 5 and 7 (if necessary) at home. Each game of the series has been close, with the margin of victory each time out being eight points or less.

Maurice Harkless of the Portland Trail Blazers and Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets at Moda Center on May 3. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

A big part of the reason that the Nuggets have been able to hang with the firepower of the Trailblazers backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is the play of their own young stars, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Murray’s play has impressed a former Nuggets player because “Jamal has been unbelievable in this series,” said Boykins on Xfinity Monday Live at Viewhouse Centennial.

“The difference between this series and the San Antonio series is, number one, his consistency. At the offensive end he has been very consistent. Number two, he is guarding (Maurice) Harkless and he gets the chance to rest at the defensive end. Therefore, at the offensive end he has legs and he is playing great basketball right now.”

Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket on Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in Portland. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

In the four games, Murray is averaging 26.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting a solid 36% from deep. Not to be outdone, Jokic has been a monster, averaging a near triple double of 26.7 points, 13.3 rebounds and 9.5 assists. It’s that kind of dominance in a playoff series that Boykins says will have a lot more eyeballs trained on the Nuggets than normal.

“Jokic is forcing the NBA to pay attention to him. When you’re in Denver, Colorado a lot of the national media tends to overlook Denver and the Nuggets especially,” said Boykins. “What Jokic is doing is, he’s forcing the entire NBA to pay attention to him.”

While those two stars have been great in the series, the same question that lingered during the regular season remains now. Who is the third option on offense? For Boykins, that answer, at least for the past couple of games has been Will Barton.

“Will has been great the last two games. It seems that he has found his confidence in his shot,” said Boykins. “Whenever you go against and ex-team, you always have something extra.”

After disappointing outings in Game 1 (9 points) and Game 2 (4 points), Barton has come up big in Games 3 & 4 hitting several big shots. The Nuggets will have to hope that kind of performance continues in Game 5 as they look to take the series lead and have a chance to close things out in Portland in Game 6. Regardless of what happens in this playoffs however, Boykins had a very bold prediction for the Nuggets future.

In the Fact or Fiction segment with CBS4 sports anchor Michael Spencer, Boykins was asked whether the Nuggets will make the NBA Finals in three years.

“I would say fact,” said Boykins. “Because in three years I don’t think Golden State will have the same team that they have now. In three years, I expect Houston to struggle. And I expect the Nuggets young guys to continue to improve and grow. So, by year three I expect the Nuggets to be in the Finals.”

(credit: CBS)

There you have it. The former Nuggets point guard is bullish on the future for for this team. For now though, all focus is on the Pepsi Center tonight for Game 5 with tip-off set for 8:30 p.m.

Comments