Both the Blazers and the Nuggets proved that they were here to win now by making two of the biggest moves of the NBA’s trade deadline towards the end of March. The Blazers shipped out Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood to the Toronto Raptors and brought in Norman Powell to supplement their situation on the wings. The Nuggets sent Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, and a protected future first-round pick to the Orlando Magic for a package centering around high-flyer Aaron Gordon which also included Gary Clark.
While these moves have added a lot of talent and depth to each respective team, the oddsmakers are still not buying it, with Denver showing +1,500 odds to win the NBA Championship and Portland offering +4,500 on 888sport. If you’re looking to make any kind of NBA prediction, those Denver odds seem very attractive, especially with the way they’ve been playing lately.
The Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets have been hovering around the same playoff spots for most of the season, never going higher than four or lower than seven for the majority of the campaign. For a long time they were right next to each other in the Western Conference standings in fifth and sixth, starting the month of April off with identical 29-18 records.
Despite the early season success, it seems clear that both of these teams are not satisfied with simply making the playoffs and possibly winning a series or two—they’re trying to go for it all this season with many of the usual contending suspects dealing with various issues from consistency to health to chemistry.
Powell is a dog who can be a big boost on the defensive wings where Portland has been getting killed all year—though, they get killed everywhere, they are just awful defensively overall—and he also gives the team another deadshot from long range to pair with long-range killers Dame Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony.
Powell will also bring a veteran presence and, perhaps most importantly, some championship DNA and pedigree that the Blazers were sorely lacking on the roster beforehand. The L.A. native has been to the end and won it all with his old team just a couple of years ago, so he knows what level of chemistry, drive, and effort is required down the stretch to make it happen where the Blazers haven’t been able to in the past.
Meanwhile, Denver’s addition of Gordon is basically the rich getting richer. They traded away a defensive stud in Harris, but he struggled to stay off the trainer’s table and so became expendable. In Gordon they don’t lose much on the defensive end anyway, as the former Slam Dunk champ offers a lot of quickness and length at the three and four positions where Michael Porter Jr. has not been known for his defensive chops.
Gordon is also a swiss-army knife on the offensive end as well, capable of doing almost everything on the floor. His playmaking ability has improved immeasurably over the past year as has his three-point jumper, and he’s also a great rebounder thanks to his significant hops, which also help him finish well—and emphatically—at the rim. The morale and energy boost that a rim-rocking run from Gordon can give to his team should not be underestimated. Not to mention he seems pretty excited to be where he’s at now, according to a Denver Post article.
Powell and Gordon both seem to be settling in nicely playing behind the two stars on each respective team, and with Denver and Portland’s two high-powered and versatile offensive attacks going up against their suspect defensive systems at Moda Center on Wednesday, this matchup should be a barn-burning fun one to watch.