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Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic overwhelm the Trail Blazers in Game 5

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Paul Millsap scored inside while being fouled, then did something he doesn’t do very often.

The calm and often emotionless veteran flexed both of his arms.

After four games of both teams playing virtually even basketball across the board, the Denver Nuggets followed Millsap’s lead and muscled their way past the Portland Trail Blazers 124-98 Tuesday night to inch within a victory of a Western Conference finals appearance.

The Nuggets lead the series 3-2.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Millsap, the steady 13-year veteran, set the tone early as he has done much of this conference semifinals series. Millsap hit seven of his first 10 shots and scored 19 of his 24 points in the first half.

“He was huge,” Denver center Nikola Jokic said. “He set everything — physicality, pace, offensively, defensively. He was really huge.”3

“He’s actually playing really good these playoffs,” Jokic added after a long pause. “Maybe he turned on the playoff mode.”

When he wasn’t abusing Portland’s defense on the low block with an array of moves and runners, Millsap hurt Portland from outside, burying a 3-pointer while being fouled for a rare four-point play that pushed the Denver lead to 20 just before halftime. The largest lead by either team prior to Game 5 was 17, by Portland in the third quarter of a Game 2 that was decided by a mere seven points.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“They like that action with Jamal Murray and Jokic a lot,” Portland point guard Damian Lillard said of Millsap. “They’re playing out of the corners with Will [Barton] and Gary Harris and [Malik] Beasley … then when all else fails, you’ve got to guard Millsap. They’ll throw him on the block, and he’s a handful for guys to guard because he’s in the paint, face-up jumpers, he’s making 3s. In transition, you got to find him, and then he’s a monster on the glass.”

Indeed, Millsap has gone into postseason beast mode, averaging 19 points, 9.6 rebounds and 54.5 percent shooting from the field against the Trail Blazers in this round.

In Game 5, Portland tried to put center Enes Kanter on Millsap early. (Kanter, a devout Muslim, is fasting from sunrise to sunset each day for the next month in observance of Ramadan.) The Nuggets adjusted, and Millsap went 5-for-5 when guarded by Kanter in the first half.

At times in Games 3 and 4, Portland tried to put Kanter on Millsap to avoid having Kanter stuck on Murray off a Jokic-Murray pick-and-roll late in games.

“They tried a few things, to switch a few things up,” Millsap said. “We read them pretty quickly, but most importantly, guys were locked in today.”

“I know they tried to be a little bit more physical with me these last two games against my counters,” Millsap added. “For me, once they take something away and I can’t bully them down there, get to my counters and just trust it.”

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