The Denver Nuggets made NBA history Tuesday by becoming the first team to come back to win a series twice when trailing 3-1 when they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 104-89. It is the 13th time in NBA History a team has come back when trailing 3-1 in the series to win, and Denver is now the only team to do it twice. They defeated the Utah Jazz in the first round after being down to them 3-1 as well.
I Count these Nuggets out at your own risk, they won’t go quietly. Jamal Murray had another fantastic and efficient performance, scoring 40 points on 15-26 shooting including 6 threes. Nikola Jokic played like the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki, or like Gregg Popovich said, Larry Bird. The Joker tallied a triple double, scoring 16, grabbing 22 rebounds and dishing out 13 assists for the Nuggets. Time and time again, he made the right passes out of a constant double team to cutting teammates for easy buckets. Jerami Grant and Gary Harris each added 14 for a Denver squad that looked loose and comfortable all series even though their backs were against the wall.
It was evident from the beginning that the pressure was all on the Clippers. struggled to make shots all night, most notably Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the two stars the Clippers mortgaged their entire future to bring to LA. They shot a combined 10-38 from the field and were only able to muster a combined 24 points in the win-or-go-home game 7. Montrezl Harrell was the lone bright spot for a Clippers team that shot 37% from the field and only 25% from three point range, as he shot 7-10 en route to scoring 20 points.
Take Michael Malone off the hot seat and plant Doc Rivers squarely in the middle of it after yet another playoff collapse. The Clippers were the betting and odds on favorite to win the title this year, but they couldn’t even make it out of the second round. Not only that but they were defeated by a Nuggets team that many considered too young to compete or as somewhat of an afterthought. One has to wonder how long an owner like Steve Balmer is willing to give a coach like Rivers who has underachieved with the talent he has been given.
The Denver Nuggets will move on to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, who have been resting and waiting for this series for nearly a week. The Lakers present a host of different problems for the Nuggets, including a host of big men to throw at Jokic, and of course Lebron James. The Conference Finals begin this Friday at 9 pm.
Photo Credit: Aaron Ontiveroz, Denver Post