Suns against. Nuggets: Michael Porter Jr. must continue to play as well as he did in Game 5 for Denver to win the championship.

Porter finished with 19 points and 8 rebounds after making five 3-pointers.

On Tuesday night in Denver, it took a whole minute for anyone to score, but Michael Porter Jr. broke the deadlock when he went into a wide-open 3-pointer in transition and caught nothing but net. Even though it was only one shot, it ended up providing all the information you required regarding Game 5.

The Denver Nuggets defeated the Phoenix Suns, 118-102, to maintain their perfect home record in the playoffs and take a 3-2 series lead. Porter had a career-high 19 points, eight rebounds, and five 3-pointers in one of his best postseason games.

Porter’s performance in this postseason and series has been inconsistent. His total stats entering Tuesday night — 14.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, and a 39.7 percent 3-point shooting percentage — were respectable, but he had twice as many games with 10 or fewer points as games with 20 or more points. Additionally, he was coming off a performance in Game 4 in which he made 2-of-9 from outside the arc while scoring 11 points on 13 attempts.

In other words, it was unclear which Porter the Nuggets would see in Game 5, but he made it plain pretty immediately that it would be the good one. He opened the scoring and then poured in 14 points in the first quarter to help the Nuggets build a double-digit advantage early on that they would keep for the duration of the game.

 

After the game, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told reporters in Denver, “We met as a staff today and we were talking about how we need somebody to stup up like Lonnie Walker did for the Lakers last night, we need somebody to step up like Landry Shamet did for the Suns in Game 4.” Michael Porter got the party started tonight. Michael Porter’s first quarter, in my opinion, gave our squad a significant boost and got us off to a great start.

Although the Suns’ shoddy defense did occasionally help Porter, he was in such an awesome flow that his 3-pointers weren’t even touching the basket. It’s also important to remember that, despite the fact that his final line may not sound remarkable, he quit the game entirely in the third quarter due to the Nuggets’ lopsided lead.

Although it won’t happen every game, the likelihood rises significantly when Porter performs like this. When he makes at least four 3-pointers, as he did in Game 5, the Nuggets win 75% of their games in both the regular season (18-6) and the playoffs (3-1) this year. The same is true when examining the number of points Porter scores; when he does, the Nuggets, who are now 4-1 in the playoffs and 28-10 overall, were 28-10 during the regular season.

Porter has been the Nuggets’ X-factor for years, but this is the first year in which it has actually mattered.

The team never had a chance in the 2021 playoffs due to Jamal Murray’s injury, and they were routed by the Suns in the second round; last season, Porter himself was hurt and did not play in the postseason. Porter was a rookie when they went to the Western Conference finals in the bubble, so it was unfair to put too much pressure on him given the circumstances.

The Nuggets finally have a chance to win a championship this time around. They have a totally healthy squad, home-court advantage for the duration of the Western Conference playoffs (and possibly the entire tournament if the Boston Celtics fail to mount a comeback against the Philadelphia 76ers), and no juggernaut standing in their way.

This is the season to win a championship if this team ever hopes to. Porter will almost certainly need to play like he did in Game 5 if they are to succeed.