Some of the reasons that make Nuggets Trail Blazers such a fun playoff series are how well even teams seem to be. At the same score in Game 5, neither team had won a game with more than eight points, and the last two games, a split, were decided by a total of seven points. One of them did four goddamn overtime hours. The Nuggets and Blazers came to the game on Tuesday night, separated by only two total points in the series.
As fun as it is, it's worth remembering that a perfectly balanced series against the third-rate blazers, without Jusuf Nurkic, should be a disappointing turn for the Denver Nuggets who have been in the regular season for a long time best record in the Western Conference. In Game 5, for the first time in this series, a clear gap opened up between the two teams, and Denver played as the healthier, deeper team and seed higher, scoring a dominant 1
Nikola Jokic was enormous because he was natural. He had a phenomenal run through these playoffs, and on Tuesday night, the only thing that could stop him from a 20-point double-double with 20 points was a sixth foul point. Jokic finished with 25 points on 18 shots plus 19 rebounds and six assists. For what it's worth, only 15 other players in the history of the NBA have ever scored so many points, rebounds and assists in a playoff game, and each one of them is either already in the Hall of Fame or will be already located in the Hall of Fame.
Jokic had more help than usual in Game 5. Paul Millsap had a decent 24 points and eight rebounds to shoot efficiently, and the wing quartet of Gary Harris, Will Barton, Malik Beasley and Torrey Craig for 44 points and exactly one turnover. Jamal Murray was the human embodiment of the Emoji, whose steam shot out of his nose, plunged through the defenses of Portland, dancing, trying out tricky moves and engaging in some of them. Murray finished with 18 points and nine assists and spent the competing part of the game in a kind of hyperaggressive joint state that was really exciting to watch.
Murray's show and Denver Cakewalk seemed to loosen up the other nuggets, so by the time this game fell into deep garbage , some deeply stupid things declined:
Considering the way in which this series has gone, and given the fact that the domestic audience of With traffic lights and thunder, there is every reason to expect the Trail Blazers to react to this thrashing in Game 6 with one of their own. Denver benefited from off-shoot nights almost all along the line from Portland's main offensive players – only one crazy person would bet on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to lose their nerve in a knockout game. We're going to forgive this blowout result when this series is back on for the full seven games.