By Johnny Askounis/ email@example.com
Everything went according to plan for Jusuf Nurkic and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Oregon organization took the home-court advantage from the Denver Nuggets to start the best-of-seven series.
“We feel good when we’re the underdogs. I think everybody’s got the Nuggets over us, and that’s OK,” noted the Bosnian center following Game 1.
Nurkic, 26, finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and one steal against his former team. On the defensive end, he was assigned to Nikola Jokic. The Joker went for 34 points and 16 rebounds but dished out just one assist.
“We want him to score and not get his teammates involved,” said Nurkic revealing his team’s approach to facing the season MVP candidate. “That was our game plan pretty much.”
Jokic, 26, was held to a personal low of assists in a playoffs contest. He set up his teammates for nine more buckets but they failed to convert his effort into assists. The 1/10 was ideal for the Blazers.
“I couldn’t get the other guys involved,” he confirmed, “They made me work for it on every possession.”
The Bosnian big started his NBA career at Denver. His run lasted nearly three seasons as he was traded to the Blazers midway through his third. He had just lost his starting role to the Joker then still emerging and making his way towards his current status as the main guy for the Nuggets.
Nurkic is finally healthy and determined to help shape a lengthy postseason run for the team cementing him into a starting role. Saturday’s contest was only his 11th playoffs appearance but early signs hint towards plenty more this time around.
Game 2 is planned to be held Monday.
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