DENVER – The Nuggets kick off what they hope will be another long playoff run with a series against the Portland Trail Blazers that starts Saturday night in Denver.
The Nuggets earned the third seed in the Western Conference and will host the sixth-seeded Blazers for the first two games of the series on Saturday and Monday before heading to Portland for games 3 and 4. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.
Games 5 and 7 would be played in Denver and Game 6 would be played in Portland if they are necessary.
Denver comes into the series having won 13 of their past 20 games, but they finished the season with a 132-116 loss to Portland, though most of Denver’s starters did not play much.
The Nuggets have been riding an MVP-esque year from Nikola Jokic, who leads the team in points, assists, and rebounds per game, and a breakout year from Michael Porter Jr. for the past month after star point guard tore his ACL in mid-April.
Jokic on Thursday was named one of three finalists for league MVP, along with Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Golden State's Stephen Curry.
The Kia NBA Most Valuable Player finalists ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/79gNjToya8— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 20, 2021
And Porter was named a finalist for the NBA's most improved player, along with former Nugget and current Piston Jerami Grant and New York's Julius Randle.
The Kia NBA Most Improved Player finalists ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/hoV64ftHta— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 20, 2021
Aaron Gordon, whom the Nuggets traded for earlier this season, has averaged 10 points and 3 rebounds per game since arriving in Denver.
The Nuggets are hoping to add on to their success in the playoffs in the bubble last year, where they reached the Western Conference Finals before falling to the Lakers in five games after thrilling series wins over Utah and the Clippers.
Denver won the season series against Portland 2-1, but the Blazers have often proved a tough team in both the regular season and playoffs because of star guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Jokic will also be tasked with squaring off with Portland center Jusuf Nurkic, who averaged 11.5 points and 9 rebounds per game this season.
The Blazers lost in the first round of the 2020 playoffs to the Lakers, who went on to win the NBA championship.
Saturday’s game starts at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN. The full schedule is as follows:
Game 1: Blazers at Nuggets, Saturday, March 22, 8:30 p.m. – ESPN
Game 2: Blazers at Nuggets, Monday, May 24, 8 p.m. – TNT
Game 3: Nuggets at Blazers, Thursday, March 27, 8:30 p.m. – NBATV
Game 4: Nuggets at Blazers, Saturday, May 29, 2 p.m. – TNT
Game 5*: Blazers at Nuggets, Tuesday, June 1 – TBD
Game 6*: Nuggets at Blazers, Thursday, June 3 – TBD
Game 7*: Blazers at Nuggets, Saturday, June 5 – TBD