Series Preview: Clippers vs. Nuggets
NBA fans have finally made it out of the first-round. The first of the Western Conference semifinals matchups between the Clippers and Nuggets will tip off at 9 p.m. on Sept. 3.
Both of these squads are coming off hard-fought, first-round matchups. The Nuggets, in particular, are coming off of a wild seven-game series in which the Jazz were one Mike Conley 3-pointer away from advancing to the second round.
This series is actually more predictable than many may think. If the Clippers can play solid perimeter defense and get consistent play out of Paul George, the Nuggets will struggle greatly.
The Nuggets, though, have arguably the hottest player in the bubble in Jamal Murray. Murray is averaging 31.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists through seven playoff games.
Murray will be consistent enough to keep the Nuggets close in this series. However, after Murray suffered a minor injury in Game 7, the Clippers will have a great chance to jump out to an early lead in this series.
Moreover, Murray is playing perhaps the best basketball of his career, shooting lights out from the perimeter. But without Nikola Jokić, the Nuggets would not have made it out of the first round. Although Murray stole the show, the versatile big-man still put up 26.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists versus the Jazz.
If the Nuggets even want to have a fighting chance in this series, Jokić and Michael Porter Jr. are going to have to step up. Denver will want to rely on Murray, but his recent injury may very well play a factor in this series down the stretch.
Even if Murray finds a way to continue his hot streak in the playoffs, he’s going up against some of the best wing defenders in the league in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. The return of Patrick Beverley will not make things easier for Denver, either.
With the Clippers’ weakness being their big man, Jokić is going to play a pivotal role in Denver’s offensive success. Defensively, the Nuggets likely won’t have an answer for Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 32.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.2 assists through six games in the opening round of the playoffs. On top of that, expect Paul George to make a difference in this series as he started to look more like himself in games five and six versus the Mavericks ( 25.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists).
Not to mention, the Nuggets defense allowed Donovan Mitchell to single-handedly carry the Jazz to a game seven while averaging 36.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Factor in the star-studded duo of George and Leonard, and Denver is in for a long series.
The Nuggets are going to test this Clippers squad the same way Luka Dončić did a series ago. Murray will have the potential to take over if he is 100% healthy.
However, George, Leonard and the Clippers’ supporting cast will be too much for the Nuggets to keep up with.
Despite battling back from a 3-1 lead, the Nuggets may very well be in a similar position against the Clippers, playing from behind. Only this time, the Clippers should get the job done in no more than six games.
Series Prediction: Clippers win the series 4-2.
Shyam Ramachandran is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com
About the Contributors
Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism
Shyam Ramachandran is a Sophomore in COMM Radio working with the sports department. Since August 2018, he has worked on and developed his sports blog “thefanalyst” as he has written over 150 NFL/NBA articles as well as over 2,000 instagram posts on his social media account. He looks to build on his personal resume by working as a team with COMM Radio.