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Denver continue making history in fairytale NBA season

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Roar Guru
16th September, 2020
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The Denver Nuggets are the first team ever to win a playoff series after trailing 3-1 twice in one postseason.

Before Denver eliminated the LA Clippers, teams were only 12-242 overall when facing a 3-1 series deficit, which included their series win against the Utah Jazz.

The playoffs are all about match-ups. While Jamal Murray was the man against Utah, the Clippers had many bodies that they could throw at the guard to slow him down.

They managed to be successful as Murray saw his production drop significantly and he was not as efficient as his shooting dropped.

The key for Denver was their All Star, Nikola Jokic, who was the leading scorer in the series. A combination of Ivica Zubac, Montrezl Harrell and Jamychal Green attempted, but they could not limit his effectiveness making plays for himself or his teammates.

Jokic’s Game 7 performance was the exclamation mark of his dominance as he posted a colossal 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists triple-double to close out the Clippers.

Additionally, Jamal Murray put out his best performance of the series in Game 7, scoring 40 points.

By contrast, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George scored a combined 24 points, with no free throws made.

Kawhi Leonard fends off Jae Crowder

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

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Heading into this series, Denver were riding an emotional high and with a short turnaround, the Clippers were able to take advantage with a dominant Game 1 victory.

Denver responded with a huge first quarter in Game 2 and they had led the whole game to even the series at 1-1. In Games 3 and 4, Jokic didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates as he couldn’t will his team falling into another 3-1 deficit.

Despite being down yet again, the Nuggets didn’t panic.

The main theme in Games 5-7 was the leads that LA could not hold. When Denver were trailing big, they remained resilient. The Clippers had leads of 16 points, 19 points and 12 points in the final three games of the series, yet lost each time.

The common theme among Denver’s playoff victories have been their defence. When they win, they concede only 101.3 per game, as when they lose, they concede 117.7.

The return of Gary Harris was huge, as he often guarded George and Leonard and did a great job to disrupt them offensively. It just shows that when they play defence, Denver give themselves a huge opportunity to win games.

The Clippers also collapsed in the second half of Games 5-7, being outscored 181 to 117. Usually a strength for the Clippers, the bench did not contribute at all. Having two of the top sixth-man of the year candidates, Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams severely underperformed.

Now the Clippers are going to be soul searching and re-evaluating their future. In what was supposed to be a huge year, the franchise still has not made the conference finals for 50 years.

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George and Leonard still have one year on their contracts, with a player option the following year.

The Clips traded a majority of their future draft picks to win now. Meanwhile, Harrell is due for a payday also so there will be some crucial decisions to make to improve for the 2020-21 season.

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Denver continue to prove the doubters wrong but they will be the underdogs when facing the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

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The Lakers have better personnel, with Anthony Davis to disrupt Jokic – and Denver’s offence and movement runs so smoothly with Jokic the driving force.

Jamal Murray’s performance will obviously be crucial yet again, but the Lakers have so far done a great job in containing explosive scoring guards such as Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Russell Westbrook and James Harden so far.

Overall, if Denver play defence and get stops when required, they give themselves a chance to win any game.

It’s the conference finals we did not expect but the Nuggets organisation believes this fairytale playoff run isn’t ready to conclude just yet.