It has been said that the NBA is a make-or-miss league, and Tuesday night that was amongst many lessons the Los Angeles Clippers learned the hard way. Once again their second half offence let them down, as the scored just 33 points over the final 24 minutes, including missing their first ten field goal attempts of the fourth quarter. The offensive aided a Denver Nuggets team, that frankly didn’t need much help, in defeating them 104-89. The Nuggets’ victory completed an improbable comeback from down 3-1.
As the first half progressed the Clippers maintained a lead, but when ever they seemed on the verge of really pushing their advantage further, they were never able to do so, which allowed the Nuggets to hang around. The Nuggets star tandem of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic showed up big time . After starting off looking a bit tentative, Jamal Murray go it going en route to a 25 point first half and 40-point night overall and Jokic had a triple double. The same cannot be said for the much more acclaimed Clipper duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard who shot 4-16 for 10 points and 6-22 for 14 respectively.
It seems the Clippers were already looking to the much-anticipated matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers and neglected the fact that they had not completed the task at hand. When they built the large leads in games 5 and 6, it seemed they expected the Nuggets to just concede and when Denver did not fold, they could not sustain the focus and maintain the poise necessary to weather that storm and persevere.
When teams get down big in a series all the usual cliches are always pulled out- “backs against the wall” “one game at a time” and “playing desperate” are three usual go tos, as it is more a matter of not if but when the series will end. To the Nuggets credit, they did not merely play out the string but displayed the type of tenacity and intensity necessary to win the in playoffs. The Denver coaches and players must be saluted for getting the job done.
It is completely understandable that the Nuggets would be jubilant after winning the series, especially considering the mountain they had to climb to do so. However I saw the celebration and it was almost like the won the championship. From now until Friday Nuggets coach Micheal Malone and the coaching staff need to show them the Kobe Bryant press conference from the 2009 Finals when he was asked was he happy about being up in the series and a stoic Bryant said that he was not because the job was not done.
The Nuggets now stare at a showdown to with Lebron James, Anthony Davis and the number one seed LA Lakers. The Clippers on the other hand, now face on offseason of regret, questions, doubts and ridicule.