This resilient Denver Nuggets squad refuses to give up.
After a quadruple overtime Game 3 thriller, the young team was down 2-1 against the Portland Trail Blazers, being down 2-1 for the second series in a row but they didn't let their confidence waiver.
With a dominant Game 5 showing at home, the Nuggets have bounced back by winning the next two games and sit in the driver's seat with a 3-2 series advantage as things shift back to Portland for Game 6.
But before that, for more on the 26-point Game 5 win in Denver, here are the takeaways:
Joker steps up again while Lillard's shooting struggles continue
Other than Game 2, Nikola Jokic has been on fire in this series vs. the Trail Blazers.
Averaging a near triple-double for the series, he delivered yet again for the team in Game 5 with 25 points, 19 rebounds, and 6 assists on 10-of-18 shooting (55.6%).
Nikola Jokic's 25 PTS, 19 REB & 6 AST and Paul Millsap's 24 PTS & 8 REB propel the @nuggets to a Game 5 victory, taking a 3-2 series lead! #MileHighBasketball #NBAPlayoffs- NBA (@NBA) May 8, 2019
Game 6: Thursday (5/9), 10:30pm/et, ESPN pic.twitter.com/ZivPv5Zu4Z
For the series, he is averaging 26.4 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists on 52.6% shooting. His efficiency has not dropped despite averaging 43.2 minutes on the court (a high in this series.)
All this in his debut postseason.
On the other hand, it hasn't been a great shooting series for the other All-Star in this matchup - Damian Lillard.
While his scoring average is still up there - 26.2 points, the shooting has left him even from as recent as the last series.
In the first round series vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, Lillard shot 45.3% from the field and 46.9% from beyond the arc. In the five games of this Nuggets series, Lillard is shooting 42.4% from the field and just 24.1% from 3-point distance.
Battle of the Boards
Denver ran away with the key victory in Game 5 in front of their home fans as they took control from the opening tip and never let up.
They attacked the rim relentlessly and fought tooth and nail for each and every rebound over the entire 48 minutes.
There work on the glass saw them end the contest with a staggering 62-44 advantage on the boards.
Nikola Jokic was the catalyst as the big man pulled down 19 of his own, six of which came on the offensive end.
Denver lead the rebounding battle throughout the series 265-236 and have now won the rebound count in the past three games.
The only loss over that timeframe was the unthinkable quadruple-overtime thriller in Game 3.
Portland are starting to feel the loss of Jusuf Nurkic more and more and without him crashing the boards, Denver are taking full advantage.
Paul Millsap, Denver's Swiss-army knife
Nikola Jokic lights up the stat sheet and hears MVP chants from the crowd while Jamal Murray captures everyone's eyes when he catches fire. But it's Paul Millsap who is the Nuggets glue guy and just quietly gets the job done.
Millsap quietly slips under the radar and seems to even be overlooked by opponents. But he's every bit as important to the Nuggets hopes as Jokic and Murray.
Paul Millsap (19 PTS, 5 REB) was cooking in the first half! ♨️#MileHighBasketball#NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/nudB5ZO1Lf- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 8, 2019
His numbers never jump off the page when you look at them, but he continues to make his presence felt on both ends of the floor and Portland are finding that out the hard way.
Through five games against the Blazers, Millsap is averaging 19 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. Those numbers go along with 1.8 blocks and 1.4 steals.
His value cannot be understated and if he keeps firing on both ends, the Nuggets could very well go a long way this postseason.
"He's been phenomenal, but it's not surprising for any of us," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after the game.
"He's stepping up when we need him to step up."
Nuggets' late first-half run
Despite the Nuggets outplaying their opponents in the first half, the Trail Blazers were still hanging around but the hosts opened up late in the first half.
With the lead hanging around 10, the young Nuggets went on a 16-6 run over the last four minutes of the first half.
The surprising part is that other than 2 rebounds and an assist, Jokic didn't contribute anything else to this run as he was on the bench fighting foul trouble.
Jamal Murray, who only scored 2 points in the first quarter, contributed to 12 of the 16 points (9 points his own) in this late second-quarter run.