- The Denver Nuggets defeated the L.A. Clippers 104-89 in Game 7 of their second round playoff series.
- Denver won the series after trailing 3-1, making them the first team in NBA history with multiple 3-1 comeback wins in the same postseason.
- Denver is a +460 underdog to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference Finals.
The 7th and deciding game between the L.A. Clippers and Denver Nuggets was one for the books. The Nuggets had stormed their way back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the series. But that wasn’t enough for them.
On Tuesday, the Nuggets became only the third team in the major sports leagues in the United States to rally from two 3-1 deficits in the same playoffs and win both series. Before Tuesday, only 1985 Kansas City Royals and the 2003 Minnesota Wild have been able to accomplish the feat.
Jamal Murray & Nikola Jokic come up big as the @nuggets come back from 3-1 down for the 2nd straight series, win Game 7 and advance to the Western Conference Finals! WCF Game 1: Friday – 9pm/et, TNT
Murray: 40 PTS, 6 3PM
Jokic: 16 PTS, 22 REB, 13 AST
Jerami Grant: 14 PTS, 5 REB pic.twitter.com/zo6rd2RYTq
— NBA (@NBA) September 16, 2020
Historic Night For Denver
Denver is also the first team in NBA history two win two series in the same playoffs after trailing 3-1 in both series. They were led by their two stars who also etched their names in the NBA’s record books with equally impressive performances.
Jamal Murray scored 40 points to lead the Nuggets. Murray made a total of nine field goals in the second quarter, which is tied for the most FGs made in a single quarter of the playoff game since the start of the play-by-play era in 1997.
A new superstar has arrived. #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/eKRLSjhvwY
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) September 16, 2020
Then there was Nikola Jokic who is known as the “Joker” but is no joke as a baller. Jokic finished with a triple double at 16 points, 22 rebounds, and 13 assists. He became the first player to record a Game 7 triple double in three quarters. Jokic became the third player (after Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett) since the NBA-ABA merger to put up a 20-rebound triple double in the playoffs.
Nikola Jokic tonight became the first player in NBA playoff history to record a 20+ rebound triple-double in a Game 7.
Entering tonight, no player had recorded a triple-double through three quarters of a Game 7 over the last 25 years. pic.twitter.com/uzMFnfB6LK
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) September 16, 2020
Tuesday marked coach Mike Malone’s 49th birthday. Before the game, Jokic told his coach he would give him two good presents- send him home or get to the conference finals. Both would have been great, but Jokic delivered the best present ever for Malone. Now the Nuggets advance to face the Lakers in the Conference Finals.
Denver is an 8-point underdog in Game 1 and are +460 favorited to beat the Lakers. In the series. At +900, they have the longest odds among the remaining four teams to win the NBA title. But after a couple of 3-1 comebacks, there is no writing off this team really. If the 2011 Dallas Mavericks were the Cinderella of the NBA Playoffs, could we be seeing Cinderella 2 with the Nuggets now?
While the Nuggets played their best when they needed it most, the Clippers collapsed when the Conference Finals was within their grasp. However, they collapsed not just in Game 7 but in the second half of the last three games of the series. The Nuggets outscored the Clippers by a total of 64 points in the second half of Games 5,6, and 7 with L.A. blowing double digit leads in Games 5 and 6.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were at their worst in the biggest game of the season. The Clippers’ two stars shot a combined 10-38 from the field and scored a total of 24 points in the game- 14 for Klaw and 10 for PG. If the 24 points was their version of a Kobe Bryant tribute, it came at the wrong time. The Clippers were up two at the half. Their superstar duo scored only 5 points in the second half. They were 0-11 with zero points in the fourth quarter of Game 7.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George tonight
Kawhi – 14 PTS, 27 FG%
PG – 10 PTS, 25 FG%
Yikes. 😬 pic.twitter.com/5wW3Cn4BOw
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) September 16, 2020
Sixth Man supreme Lou Williams also had a drought with 7 points while shooting just 3-11 from the floor. As a team, the Clippers shot just 37.8% from the field and 27.5% from behind the three-point arc.
And then there’s Doc Rivers who became the first head coach to lose three different series after leading 3-1. Interestingly, these have happened in different decades: in 2003 with the Magic, 2015 an 2020 with the Clippers. The Clippers are 0-8 in games where they have an opportunity to close out the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals and Rivers has six of those losses. Rivers took the blame for Tuesday’s loss but perhaps Steve Ballmer has to think hard this offseason about keeping Doc.