The Portland Trail Blazers weren't ready to go home.
With a season-saving Game 6 win in Portland, the Blazers will play their first Game 7 since 2003. Meanwhile, for the second playoff series in a row, the young Nuggets will look to use their home court advantage to advance to the next round.
Portland's trio of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Rodney Hood showed up when it mattered, putting up big scoring numbers.
Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Rodney Hood become the first trio to all score 25+ PTS in a win when facing elimination since Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, and Keith Van Horn (2002). pic.twitter.com/HZqAjluuD7- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) May 10, 2019
After a couple of days break, both teams will look to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Can the Blazers win another one in Denver and mark their first Conference Finals appearance since 2000 or will the Nuggets make it to their first Conference Finals since 2009?
Rodney Hood headlines bench mismatch
The bench production was a huge factor in Game 6.
The Blazers reserves more than tripled the output by their counterparts by outscoring the Nuggets' bench 42-13.
Rodney Hood was the leading man off the bench, finishing the game with a playoff career-high 25 points on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting.
Playoff career-high 25 points for Hoodie 🎥 pic.twitter.com/TMgZDlp8ki- Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) May 10, 2019
Zach Collins, in his 29 minutes, recorded 14 points (4-8 FG's) and 5 blocks.
While the duo of Seth Curry and Evan Turner didn't have a lot of points to show for but both contributed tremendously in their own way. Curry only had three points but he finished with a +19 in his 20 minutes on the floor while Turner, who attempted no shots, finished with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
On the other hand, the Nuggets' bench, that averaged 29.2 points this series, was led by Will Barton's 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Troubles at the charity stripe
In close games, any easy points you can get should be taken. They can be the difference between winning and losing.
Thankfully for the Portland Trail Blazers, they managed to walk away with the victory, but it was by no means easy.
Escaping to force a big Game 7, the Blazers could have easily accounted for the Denver Nuggets and allowed their starters some rest if only they knocked down their free throws.
The Blazers in total went 18-26 from the free throw line (69%) with Al-Farouq Aminu going 1-4 from the line and normally reliable shooter Rodney Hood went 6-9.
With the intensity in Game 7 set to go through the roof, the winner of the series could come down to who can knock down their free throws.
The clock strikes Dame in third
Damian Lillard hadn't enjoyed the same level of success this series as he had in the first round. The Denver Nuggets had done a good job of keeping the star guard in check following a Game 1 39 point display.
With only 11 points to his name at halftime, it looked like he was headed for another subpar performance.
That all changed in the third quarter when Lillard found his range and Dame Time took over.
Lillard dropped 17 points on 6-7 shooting which included going 3-4 from deep in the third quarter as the Blazers extended their lead.
:watch: DAME RANGE! :watch:- NBA (@NBA) May 10, 2019
17 PTS in the 3rd, 28 total for Lillard on @ESPNNBA! #NBAPlayoffs #RipCity 83#MileHighBasketball 78 pic.twitter.com/9FK9pAvfwA
He was simply unstoppable and was hitting from all over the floor as the Nuggets were helpless to slow him down. He matched his second highest output from the series in less than three quarters as he torched the defense. Lillard eventually finished the contest with 32 points on 11-23 shooting, going 6-13 from three.
With a Game 7 to come and Lillard finding his range, the Nuggets should be fearful of the Blazers' leader.