The #3 Denver Nuggets and the #2 LA Clippers square off in a do-or-die Game 7 to determine which team advances to the Western Conference Finals to play the #1 LA Lakers. Nikola Jokic and Denver have a chance to make history by becoming the first NBA team to rally and win two playoff series in a row after trailing 3-1.
Denver became the 12th team in history to pull off the rare 3-1 comeback after falling behind the Utah Jazz in the first round. The Nuggets, inspired by Jamal Murray’s unstoppable scoring binge, won three straight games to knock out the Jazz in a dramatic Game 7.
Denver has a chance to pull off a second 3-1 comeback inside the NBA Bubble.
After falling into a 3-1 hole against the LA Clippers, the Nuggets won two in a row to even the series at 3-3 heading into Game 7.
Denver is 5-0 in elimination games this postseason. If they win Game 7, they’ll tie the 1994 Nuggets, led by Dikembe Motumbo with six do-or-die victories.
|#3 Denver Nuggets (3-3) vs #2 LA Clippers (3-3)
- Tip-off: 6pm PT
- Point Spread: LAC -7.5
- Total: 208.5 o/u
- Money Line: LAC -310 / DEN +260
The Nuggets are +7.5 underdogs against the LA Clippers coming into Game 7.
Only five teams remain in the hunt for the NBA championship. The Lakers await the winner of this game in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers are the new favorite to win the NBA title at +130 odds, according to an update from DraftKings. The Clippers slipped to 3/1 odds.
The Miami Heat and Boston Celtics begin the Eastern Conference Finals today.
The slow-starting Nuggets were down at least 16 points at halftime in four out of the first six games against the Clippers. They tend to play their best basketball in the second half, while the Clippers look like they’re playing in slow motion by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.
Denver’s defense held the Clips to just 35 points in the second half, including 19 points in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve always felt that we were good enough, no one else does,” said Denver head coach Michael Malone. “But we don’t listen to the noise. We’ve always had this internal belief in ourselves and our collective group that we’re good enough to win a championship.”
Jokic thrives on the pressure, which he explained actually makes the team more relaxed.
“The locker room is a little bit looser, funnier, when we are in elimination games,” said Jokic. “We’re just going to go there and have fun. It’s a little bit relaxed. We don’t have that much pressure. When we play like that, our confidence is really high.”
Meanwhile, the pressure has clearly gotten to the Clippers, who were unable to deliver a knock out blow in Games 5 and 6.
Jokic led all scorers with 34 points in Game 6. He also pulled down 14 rebounds and dished out seven assists. Murray added a quiet 21 points and took just two 3-point shots because Patrick Beverly stuck to him like flies on dog poo.
In Game 6, Gary Harris finally woke up from a huge slumber with 16 points. He averaged 7.5 ppg this postseason before an inspiring performance in the second half of Game 6.
What Happened to the Clippers?
Last week, the Clippers were flying high with a 3-1 series lead. They were one game away from the West Finals and oddsmakers across the globe made them the consensus favorite to win the NBA championship.
The Clippers have never won an NBA title. They’ve never even played in the NBA Finals. Despite some good teams over the last decade with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clips never advanced to the West Finals.
What seemed like a sure thing has now become a reminder of a perennial curse. Are the Clippers hexed and doomed to fall in Game 7?
“It’s taking our foot off the pedal and not actually just finishing the game,” said Marcus Morris.
The Clippers contained Jamal Murray at the start of the series. However, they’ve yet to figure out how to stop Jokic.
Doc Rivers called upon center Ivica Zubac to stop his Balkan counterpart. Zubac scored just two points in 30 minutes of shadowing Jokic, but that didn’t work.
Montrezl Harrell, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, scored only four points in Game 6. Rivers will need Trez to step up on both ends of the court in Game 7 if the Clippers expect to knock out the Nuggets.
The only good thing going for the Clips? Paul George looks like he finally snapped out of his early slump. He’s now averaging 23.7 ppg against the Nugs. He scored 26 in Game 5, and dropped 33 points and added five steals in Game 6.