Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Nikola Jokic sparks big Nuggets second-half run in series-clinching Game 6 win

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Not this time.

For the second time in three years, the Nuggets led 3-2 in a playoff series against the Trail Blazers. While they ended up losing in Game 7 back in 2019, this time around despite being short-handed, they took care of business.

They doubled their opponents in the fourth quarter 28-14 to come back from their largest deficit of 14 in the third quarter and clinch the game 126-115. Thus, advancing to the Conference Semifinals for the third consecutive year.

Nikola Jokic rebounded from a quiet nine-point first half to finish with 36 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He was one of six players in double figures for Denver as they flipped this game by going on a 42-18 run over the final 15 minutes of the game.

Here's a quick look at the other big takeaways from this game.

Porter Jr.'s scorching start

The last time Porter Jr. played at the Moda Center, he only attempted three shots to finish with just three points in the blowout Game 4 loss.

To start Game 6, back in Portland, the 22-year-old was anything but struggling. He knocked down his first six shots including five from beyond the arc.

He finished the period with all of the team's six 3-pointers and scored or assisted on 24 of the team's first 27 points in the game. With his hot start, MVP finalist Nikola Jokic, who was battling foul trouble, was scoreless with only three assists and two rebounds.

At the end of the first 12 minutes, despite Porter Jr.'s hot start, Nuggets trailed 33-29 because the Trail Blazers were sparked by Lillard, who scored or assisted on 19 of the team's points.

Portland dictate pace in first half

The Trail Blazers ranked second on offence and 29th on defence in the regular season. So, going back-and-forth in a shootout actually suits their style of play and that's exactly how the game was flowing early.

Both teams shot above 50% in the first half with the Nuggets shooting 23-of-44 (52.3 percent) from the field including nine 3-pointers while Trail Blazers went 25-of-42 (59.5%) from the field which included 11 3pointers in 19 attempts.

Playing at their style and pace, it was only apt for Portland to carry a lead into the locker room at halftime and so they did, leading 68-61 courtesy of this near-buzzer-beater from Lillard.

Jokic's big 3rd quarter sparks Nuggets back in it

The Trail Blazers continued their red-hot shooting early in the third quarter but as they cooled off later in the period, Jokic started to take over.

He scored 20 of the team's 37 points in the third period, more importantly, he was responsible for 11 of the team's 14-4 run to cap off the period.

That late surge, including Monte Morris' 3-pointer at the buzzer, helped the Nuggets make it a 3-point game (101-98) after trailing by their maximum deficit of 14 earlier in the period.

Blazers go ice-cold in 4th

Portland finished with six players in double figures, led by Damian Lillard's 28 points and 13 assists but it wasn't enough.

After scoring at least 33 points in each of the first three quarters, they went ice-cold in the final period for 14 points.

What's next?

With this win Jokic and the Nuggets eliminate the Trail Blazers and advance to their third straight Conference Semifinals where they will face-off against the winner of the Suns-Lakers series.

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