Monday, 15 Jul 2024

Series Preview: Clippers Haven’t Dominated, and Nuggets Sure to Provide Challenge

Clippers vs Nuggets

The Los Angeles Clippers head into the conference semifinals after a less than dominant performance against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. Despite being heralded as championship favorites, the Clippers have struggled with consistency and continuity. While they have undeniable talent and depth, their performance has not lived up to expectations.

Kawhi Leonard, the reigning Finals MVP, was steady and unguardable. However, Paul George went through a rough patch in the middle of the series, and the bench duo of Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams did not have the impact expected of them. Coach Doc Rivers is not only coaching the Clippers but also managing the unique circumstances of the bubble. The Clippers are facing high expectations for the first time in franchise history.

If the Clippers thought Luka Doncic was a handful, they are in for another challenge with the improved bubble version of Jamal Murray. Murray’s exceptional performance helped the Denver Nuggets secure a dramatic Game 7 win over the Utah Jazz in the first round, despite a knee injury. The Nuggets are not a one-man show, though. They rely on the versatility of their All-NBA big man, Nikola Jokic, who has also been in great form. With Murray and Jokic leading the way, the Nuggets present a formidable challenge for the Clippers. Coach Mike Malone has a deep and balanced roster at his disposal.

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Three Things to Watch

  1. Has Paul George overcome his struggles in the bubble and returned to his All-Star form? George attributed his poor performance in the middle of the first-round series against the Mavericks to mental fatigue caused by the unique circumstances of the bubble. Now that he has had time to adjust, the Clippers will need him to perform at his best if they want to win a championship.

  2. Can Jamal Murray continue his impressive performance? Murray showed his skills in the first round against the Jazz, scoring at all three levels and proving to be a challenge for any defense. He will face a tougher defensive challenge against the Clippers, but if he maintains his confidence and form, he can elevate the Nuggets’ game.

  3. Are the Clippers fully focused on the Nuggets and not looking ahead to a potential conference final against the Lakers? The Clippers had a scare in the first round against the Mavericks, which should have reminded them not to underestimate any opponent. While the battle with the Lakers is highly anticipated, the Clippers need to concentrate on the task at hand and not overlook the Nuggets.

The Number to Know

The Clippers have been efficient in pick-and-roll situations, scoring 1.20 points per possession on pick-and-roll ball-handler plays in the first round against the Mavericks. This is higher than any team achieved in the regular season. Lou Williams and Kawhi Leonard have been particularly effective in these situations, with Williams scoring 1.43 points per possession and Leonard scoring 1.42 points per possession on pull-up 2-pointers.

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The Nuggets will face a challenge in defending the Clippers’ pick-and-roll plays. The Clippers also have capable roll men and rank second in catch-and-shoot 3-point percentage in the playoffs. The Nuggets will need to make difficult defensive decisions to counter the Clippers’ offensive strengths.

FAQs

Q: Can the Clippers overcome their lack of dominance in the first round?
A: The Clippers struggled to find consistency and continuity against the Mavericks. However, they have the talent and depth to overcome these challenges. With their key players performing at their best, the Clippers are still strong contenders for the championship.

Q: How important is Paul George’s performance for the Clippers?
A: Paul George’s performance is crucial for the Clippers’ success. He went through a rough patch in the first round but has the potential to be an All-Star player. If he can regain his form and contribute consistently, it will greatly enhance the Clippers’ chances of winning a championship.

Q: Can Jamal Murray continue his outstanding performance in the playoffs?
A: Jamal Murray has been exceptional in the playoffs, displaying his scoring ability and confidence. While he will face tougher defensive challenges against the Clippers, his skills and determination make him a key player for the Nuggets. If Murray can maintain his performance level, the Nuggets will have a chance to compete against the Clippers.

Summary

In the conference semifinals, the Los Angeles Clippers face the challenge of the Denver Nuggets, who have shown their resilience and talent in the first round. The Clippers must improve their consistency and focus if they want to fulfill their championship aspirations. Led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers have the star power to dominate the series. However, they cannot underestimate the Nuggets, who have a deep and balanced roster, with Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic leading the way. The Clippers must stay focused on the Nuggets and not get ahead of themselves. It promises to be an exciting series with high stakes.

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Note: The views expressed in this article do not represent the views of the NBA, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.