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Blazers ready to bring same level of intensity to match Nuggets in Game 5 originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
The Trail Blazers know they can’t let up in the slightest heading back to Denver.
Damian Lillard’s biggest message following Monday’s practice:
“We can’t relax.”
The Trail Blazers and Nuggets First Round series has been an intense one thus far, and it’s also been a pattern.
The loser of the previous game has always answered the call.
With the series tied at 2-2, the Blazers realize how aggressive the Nuggets are going to be on their home floor after Portland blew out Denver in Game 4.
Michael Porter Jr., who finished with a series-low three points on just one-of-three shooting in Saturday’s 115-95 drubbing, knows he needs to hunt for his shots more.
He says he must be more of a factor come Tuesday.
“It’ll be a different game tomorrow,” Porter Jr. explained after Denver wrapped up its practice Monday afternoon. “We came out way too nonchalant last game. We can never do that in a playoff game.”
Nobody will be surprised to have the Nuggets come out and be the aggressors in Game 5.
The Blazers know that best.
“After the game in the locker room, on the plane on the way here, the conversation has just been – we’ve got to sustain that level of energy and that level of focus,” Lillard said.
Because when you win a game it’s easy to talk about it… Going out and doing it again is completely separate from talking about it, especially when the other team is coming off a loss and they trying to answer the call and you know that they’re going to bring it.
Lillard believes that the team's maturity and experience will come into play for the rest of the series.
The Blazers six-time All-Star is also looking for his team to “sustain what they’ve built for the last game and a half.”
For Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts, he doesn’t want the series history to repeat itself.
“Game 2, there’s no question that we won Game 1 and they came out and they were more aggressive. That was obvious to everybody,” Coach Stotts said.
I think in Game 3 and Game 4, even though we didn’t win Game 3, I thought our approach to the game, the way we came into it, it was obvious and we need to have that same approach as far as being locked in and being aggressive.
Lillard added that it isn’t just a mindset that the Blazers have to have in order to take the pivotal Game 5, it’ll come down to their defense.
“When we’re right, it’s not about the other team or them feeling frustrated or whatever, it’s us doing what we talk about in our film -- that’s playing hard defense, picking up, putting pressure on the ball, making them uncomfortable, and not allowing them to have their way," he said.
"I thought that’s what we did last game, we pressured the ball. We played physical, we played with energy and we was able to sustain that for a much longer period of time than we had all series."
After traveling to Denver Sunday afternoon while getting their bodies and minds right, the Blazers went through game film and practice Monday to prepare for the challenge ahead.
And now it’s about getting it done on the court, not just saying what needs to be done.
This ain’t a situation where we can be like, ‘alright, lock-in, we’ve got to have this game.’ We said that after Game 1 and we went out there and got blasted. We’ve got to walk the walk on this one. This is a big one… I think everybody is on the same page with that.
Lillard and the Blazers are ready to back up their words with action.
Portland and Denver will tip-off Game 5 at 6:00p.m. PT on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.