After the Clippers‘ Game 4 win over the Nuggets last Wednesday, an all-L.A. showdown in the Western Conference Finals appeared to be an inevitability. The Nuggets had mustered just 85 points in their Game 4 loss, Michael Porter Jr. was publicly griping about the team’s offensive approach, and the odds of Denver once again overcoming a 3-1 deficit were remote.
The Nuggets haven’t rolled over though, erasing 16- and 19-point Clippers leads in Games 5 and 6 respectively to push the series to 3-3 and set up a Game 7 on Tuesday. As was the case in the first round against Utah, Denver has been at its best when facing elimination, with all the pressure on the opponent to close things out.
If the Clippers can’t close things out, it would be another devastating collapse for a franchise that’s 0-7 all-time in series-clinching games to advance to the Western Finals, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Led by All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the club has been considered one of the NBA’s top title contenders all season long and entered the series as overwhelming favorites.
L.A. continues to be heavily favored in Game 7 (BetOnline.ag lists the Clippers at -7.5), but the Nuggets have done an excellent job holding the Clips’ supporting cast in check this series. Besides Leonard and George, no Clipper is averaging over 11.5 points per game. Lou Williams (.368/.130/.769 shooting) has struggled badly with his shot, while Sixth Man of the Year winner Montrezl Harrell has posted a dismal -11.3 net rating in his minutes.
The Clippers have had a knack this season for flipping the switch and coming up big when they need to after disappointing showings. But in a Game 7, there’s little room for error. If Nikola Jokic and/or Jamal Murray have big games, L.A. will need Leonard and George to match the Nuggets star(s) — and the Clippers would probably love to see at least one or two role players step up as well.
What do you think? Will the Clippers ultimately advance to the Western Finals as we all expected after Game 4? Or can the Nuggets pull off the major upset, coming back from a 3-1 hole for a second consecutive series?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section to weigh in with your thoughts!
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