National Basketball Association playoffs 2019: Paul Millsap is 'the calm' in Nuggets' postseason storm

The sweet revenge Will Barton didn’t take on the Blazers or on his coach

The sweet revenge Will Barton didn’t take on the Blazers or on his coach

Lillard and backcourt partner CJ McCollum, the trail blazers for the Trail Blazers, simply couldn't find a path to the hoop.

The Denver Nuggets crush the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 with a 124-98 win to take a 3-2 series lead. And though the Trail Blazers closed the gap for a few minutes, the Nuggets never trailed in the first half.

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers drives to the basket against the Denver Nuggets during Game Five of the Western Conference Semi-Finals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

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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 Nuggets led by as many as 31 points in the second half, cruising to a 3-2 series lead and pushing Portland to the brink of elimination.

Lillard paced Portland with 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. With the game out of reach before the start of the fourth, Stotts pulled his regular rotation, letting the likes of Meyers Leonard, Jake Layman, Evan Turner and Anfernee Simons close out a disappointing and embarrassing loss.

"I don't think anybody in here feels like we can't beat them", forward Maurice Harkless said. Portland was just 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) from the free throw line. When all those things happen it's a slim chance that you gonna win the game. Denver now leads the best-of-seven series with Portland 3-2. "We going back home to try to force a Game 7 and try to make it back here".

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Through five games against the Blazers, Millsap is averaging 19 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. The Nuggets set an early tone, and with Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic remaining matchup issues on the interior, and the Blazers' top scorers not keeping pace, the game got away from Portland. Jamal Murray has averaged 21.6 points and added 4.1 rebounds while shooting 45.7 percent over the last 10 games for Denver.

The Nuggets can secure their first trip to the Western Conference Finals in a decade with a win in Game 6 on Thursday night in Portland.

"We've got two must-wins", Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

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