(CBS4) – The Denver Nuggets finally know who they’ll be facing in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and his teammates will square off against the Portland Trail Blazers in Round 1 after capturing the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
The series dates and times have not yet been set, but because Denver has home-court advantage the first two games will be at Ball Arena. There will be more fans allowed at those games than there has been in the regular season. Ball Arena received approval from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to increase capacity to 7,750 fans per game, which is 42.3% of overall venue capacity.
Portland, led by Damian Lillard, wound up with the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. The Nuggets mostly rested their starters in the second half and lost to them on Sunday night after winning their first two games against them earlier in the season — a 111-106 victory on Feb. 23 and a 106-105 victory on April 21. Jokic scored 41 and 25 points in those games.
While Jokic is on top of his game at the moment and is expected to continue that strong play into the playoffs, there are some questions about how the rest of the team will perform in the postseason. Forward Michael Porter Jr. has been improving steadily and has a chance to really shine as the team’s No. 2 scorer, a role he filled well following the season-ending knee injury to Jamal Murray. Will he be able to continue that strong play? Will Will Barton and P.J. Dozier be able to suit up? Both guards have missed significant time with injuries. How will Facundo Campazzo perform as the starting point guard in his first NBA Playoffs?
If the Nuggets knock out Portland and advance to Round 2 of the playoffs, they would face the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns or one of several other possible teams. The Suns’ playoff opponent still has yet to be determined due to this week’s upcoming play-in games.
Real work starts now.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 17, 2021
Game 1 of the Nuggets-Blazers first round matchup is expected to be played on Saturday or Sunday.