The Nuggets have shocked the NBA world by forcing a game 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals.
DraftKings has the Los Angeles Clippers as clear favorites heading into game 7 and gives them a point spread of 7.5 points. However, this series has shaped up to be anything but ordinary.
How did the Nuggets manage to make it to a game 7 after being down 3-1? Well, the Clippers just cannot seem to finish the series against the Nuggets.
The Clipper have blown many large leads including leading by 19 points in game 6 and 16 points in game 5. At this point, it feels like the Nuggets want to win this series more. Game 7 is a test for the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers had difficulty closing out the series against the Dallas Mavericks too.
However, anything can happen in a game 7 and the better team can lose. The fact the Nuggets were underdogs going into this series gives them a huge advantage going into game 7. Moreover, the number of game 7’s experienced by the Nuggets gives them an advantage as well. They have experienced the pressure of it before.
The Nuggets basketball team is playing with a lot of energy and excitement against the Clippers. Their depth and the ability to score collectively against the Clippers’s elite defense has made the Nuggets a formidable opponent.
The Nuggets can be a good defensive team once they get comfortable with an opponent. This is because the Nuggets have some many talented players on their roster. When they are scoring at a high level, the other team has to be effective offensively to beat them.
Most importantly, the Nuggets have made offensive and defensive adjustments after and during every game to help them win. This has undoubtedly helped them overcome huge deficits they faced in some games against the Clippers.
The Nuggets have been pushed every series over the past two playoffs to a game 7. This is mainly because their deep roster allows them to make adjustments against their opponents and the young Nuggets roster has struggled closing out a playoff series.
As mundane as it sounds, the Clippers have to play better collectively in game 7. For game 5 and 6, Kawhi and George outscored Jokic and Murray in both games. The Clippers duo has averaged 60.0 points over the past two games. Kawhi and George have only averaged a combined 47.6 points in their wins against the Nuggets. Williams and Harrell have only averaged a combined 14.5 points over the past 2 games. Harrell and Williams average 24.0 points per game for games 1-4. The Clippers need more offense from their bench if they are going to eliminate the Nuggets.
However, the success of the Clippers in game 7 is going to depend on the performance of Kawhi and George. The Clippers need substantial offense from Kawhi as he has averaged 27.3 points per game in the three games the Clippers beat the Nuggets this series.
Kawhi and George have not performed well throughout the entirety of the series. So far Kawhi has only averaged 26.0 points per game against the Nuggets in the playoffs. This is lower than what Kawhi has averaged for any of the past five playoff series he has played in while in the NBA. Comparatively, in the 2019 Eastern Conference Semifinals Kawhi averaged 34.7 points per game.
Per 36 minutes, George is also having his lowest scoring for the playoffs in five years. Williams scoring is down compared to last season when he averaged 26.6 points per 36 minutes in his last playoff appearance.
The average margin of victory for this series has been 11.3 points per game and 13.3 points in Clipper victories. If the Clippers win, it should be by a margin a victory larger than the point spread. However, the Nuggets have been playing with such valor that it is hard to discount them in a game 7.
In game 7’s, the young Nuggets are 2-1. Kawhi is 2-2 and George is 1-2 in game 7’s. Outside of round 1, George is 0-1. In game 7’s, Kawhi has averaged 22.0 points and George averaged 21.0 points. Impressively, Jokic averages 26.7 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in game 7’s. Murray has managed 19.0 points per game in the three game 7’s he has played in for his career. For their careers, Joker and Murry have had better performances in game 7’s than Kawhi and George.
Despite what others think, the Nuggets should be the favorites heading into game 7.