The West’s #2 seed Los Angeles Clippers will meet the #3 seed Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. On paper, this was the matchup that everyone expected at the beginning of The Bubble, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen. After an incredible Game 7 between Denver and Utah, and Luka Doncic giving LA just about all they could handle, we are finally ready to head into the next round.
FIVE KEYS TO THE SERIES
Playoff P needs to show up for the entire series
Paul George was noticeably absent from the score sheets through the first 4 games of the series, especially in games 2-4. In Game 5, when they needed him most, he finally showed up and helped put Dallas away. But Playoff P was originally born as a defensive stopper, guarding Donovan Mitchell in the 2018 playoffs. With all the offensive firepower at Denver’s disposal, PG13 will need to be at Playoff P levels the entire time if the Clips want to advance.
Kawhi Leonard needs to stay healthy
That is really the only thing that can stop The Claw at this point it seems, but he’s also a player who notoriously has taken many rest days in regular seasons. He’s looked sharp in the restart and playoffs, but will the grueling every other day schedule of the Bubble catch up to him at some point? It could spell disaster if it does.
Don’t underestimate your opponents
Just about every single national sportswriter, including all the writers for the Denver Post, is picking the Clippers to win the series in either 5 or 6 games. The Clippers need to not hear this and underestimate just how good this Denver team is right now, lest they fall victim to an upset for the ages.
Jamal Murray put on an other-worldly show in the first round. Three consecutive 40-point games. Two games with 50 points. He also went two straight games without turning the ball over. He’s going to need to put on a very similar performance for the Nuggets to have a chance, and as we saw in Game 7, he might be a bit gassed. The Clippers defense is steps above Utah’s, and it will be interesting to see how a combination of Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard handle Murray.
Which role players will show up?
This partially depends on the health of Patrick Beverly, I suppose, but where will the surprise player come from this series? Will it be Beverley coming back? Will it be Gary Harris coming back for the Nuggets that will be the x-factor? What about Paul Milsap? Has anyone heard from him recently?
I so desperately want to be that one guy who says the Nuggets WILL win this series. No one is picking them. NO. ONE. Because the smart money is on the Clippers in either 5 or 6. They’re just too good and too loaded. There’s no way they lose this series. Even if the scrappy Nuggets are playing with house money. Which is exactly why my prediction is…
NUGGETS IN 7
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