The Trail Blazers are the oddity of the NBA this year, with enough injuries to fill a hospital wing, they are still competitive.
Greg Oden sadly went down again with a patella fracture, Joel Pryzbilla ruptured a patella tendon and the list goes on. Travis Outlaw, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez and even coach Nate McMillan sustained severe injuries in 2009-10 and Portland still rolls along.
The additions of Steve Blake and Marcus Camby helped sure up the crumbling dam in Portland and the Blazers have fought the entire season to get into the seventh spot.
Brandon Roy is a special player with sub-par numbers but the team is boosted by his play in combination with LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is a young beast (17.9 pts, 8.1 reb) that uses his size and athleticism to his advantage.
Andre Miller is getting older, but he’s helped Portland in many ways and Camby is the defensive backbone of the team.
Those former Nuggets would love nothing more than beating their old team in a playoff series.
Denver however, has health issues all its own.
Head coach George Karl is still hopeful for a return from cancer treatments during the playoffs, but not even he can say for sure if his body will let him coach so soon after the exhausting treatments.
On top of that, Kenyon Martin missed a month of action before returning to the hardwood in the devastating loss to the Spurs Saturday night. Martin underwent Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy in March and seems close to full health just as the playoffs are about to tip off.
Chris “Birdman” Andersen (ankle), Ty Lawson (shoulder), Joey Graham (ankle) and even Carmelo Anthony (ankle) have all missed significant amounts of time during this season and all are playing through their injuries while fighting for victories.
Anthony is a deadly shooter, can take opponents off the dribble and has included pin-point passing into his arsenal this season. Chauncey Billups is scoring a career high (19.7 pts.) and is the glue that holds the Nuggets together on many nights, especially in Karl’s absence.
JR Smith is the wildcard of the series, his play could determine which of these Northwest rivals move past the first round. Smith can be lethal from long range, but he can also be unconscious in his shot selection. If Smith can find a way to play under control he will be an asset to the Nuggets, if not he could shoot them out of games and eventually out of the playoffs.
Just in as of Midnight MT, Roy may miss the playoffs due to a torn meniscus. If he does, it greatly diminishes the Blazers' chances of winning a series, no matter who they play.
Season series: Denver 3-1, 5.25 points per game difference.