Blazers vs. Nuggets preview: Streaking Denver goes for sixth straight win

USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets host the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, and history is on the side of George Karl's team.

The Portland Trail Blazers have been stifled of late. They're coming off two consecutive losses to the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder, and in both games they simply struggled to make shots.

That won't bode well Thursday night when the head to Denver to play a Nuggets team that hasn't lost to the Trail Blazers in the Pepsi Center since December of 2007.

George Karl's team is also the hottest team in the Western Conference, having won five in a row.

The Nuggets are averaging 108.8 points through that five-game stretch, and their firepower only grew with the return of forward Wilson Chandler, who scored 14 points against Golden State on Sunday in his return from a hip injury. The unit has averaged 38.4 points per game without Chandler for all but four games this year, and that compares to a lowly 16.9 points from Portland's second unit.

Terry Stott's team will have to rely upon a heavily-used starting lineup to match Denver. The Blazers could take advantage of the Nuggets' lineup that, while not poor, doesn't start games quickly.

Karl told the Denver Post this week that it's been an issue.

"Our starters have been slow starters," Karl said. "They haven't been guys that come out and jump into the game in the first quarter. I'm pretty sure our first quarter is our worst quarter. I think our starters have not been intensely focused, and we have too much coolness in our starting lineup at times. It seems like it's worse at home than it is on the road."

Aided by the surprising play of rookie point guard Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge's 20.5 points per game leads a starting unit that averages 82.8 points per game.

Matchup to watch

Aldridge is coming off his season-high, 33-point performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, and he could be a matchup problem for the Nuggets. Assuming Kosta Koufos and J.J. Hickson are matched up at the center spot, Aldridge will be defended by either 6'8 Kenneth Faried or oversized small forward Danilo Gallinari.

Time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: NBA TV

Odds: Oddshark has Denver favored by 7.5.

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