Game 6 started with a flurry of shots from Michael Porter Jr. Although he didn’t do much in the second half, the Nikola Jokić and Denver’s role players buried Portland in the second half, 126-115.
There’s riding the hot hand and then there’s whatever MPJ was doing on Thursday night. Porter scored 22 of Denver’s 29 first quarter points (the most first quarter points in a playoff game for a Nugget since 1997-98).
Despite Porter’s efforts, Portland led by four after the first quarter. Nikola Jokić finally showed up in the second quarter with nine points after going scoreless in the first.
The presumptive MVP went on to score 27 in the second half and finished with 36 points. He also picked up eight rebounds and six assists.
Damian Lillard did a little bit of everything in the first half including 19 points on 7-for-11 shooting (3-of-5 from three). He also had seven assists. Lillard struggled to shoot the rest of the way with 8-of-20 from the floor and 3-of-11 from deep. He ended with 28 points and 13 assists.
CJ McCollum was abysmal from three point land (1-of-6) in the first half. He didn’t finish much better. McCollum did score 21 points, but it took 21 shots (9-for-21, 2-for-8 from three).
Jusuf Nurkić played a great first half guarding Jokić, but the fouls changed that. Nurk was called for four fouls in the third quarter alone. After the fourth foul, Portland still led 97-89. Denver went on to outscore the Trail Blazers 37-18.
The offseason now begins for Portland and it could be full of big changes. Rumors have swirled around the possible firing of Terry Stotts and there are questions surrounding the roster as well.
The good news is the Blazers core is all under contract for the 2021-22 season, according to Spotrac.com. Portland’s biggest names up for free agency are Carmelo Anthony, Enes Kanter and potentially Zach Collins.
As for Denver, they will face the winner of the Phoenix-Los Angeles Lakers series.