The Denver Nuggets faced a tough task against their divisional rivals in the Portland Trail Blazers in a high stakes contest.
A win would ensure the young Nuggets win the Northwest division title, the first since 2010. However, a loss would close the gap between the teams for the second seed to just 1.0 game, but Nikola Jokic was having none of that.
The Serbian centre recorded a near triple-double of 22 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, and two steals on 9-of-15 shooting. He received ample support from veteran Paul Millsap:
Nikola Jokic (22 PTS, 13 REB, 9 AST), & @Paulmillsap4 (25 PTS) fuel the @nuggets win over POR! #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/YuaiH6SWwX- NBA (@NBA) April 6, 2019
Their starting point guard Jamal Murray also had a great game with 23 points, six assists, and four rebounds.
Given the nine-point margin of victory, there wasn't much to separate both teams. The shorthanded Trail Blazers, who were suiting up without CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, had six players score in double figures, led by Enes Kanter's 24 on 12-of-17 shooting.
All-Star Damian Lillard was a +5 while he was on the floor, but he had a rough shooting night, going 3-of-14 from the field and 0-of-6 from the three-point line. He finished the game with 14 points, eight assists and four rebounds.
As expected prior to tip-off, the result of this game had a massive impact on the playoff picture in the West.
The Nuggets clinched home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs by winning their Northwest division, meanwhile, the loss now has the Blazers just 1.0 game behind the Utah Jazz, who are the league's hottest team having won their last seven games.