Clippers vs Nuggets game 7 preview |
With a few seconds to go in the first half of their game vs the Nuggets, the Los Angeles Clippers looked like they were going to make franchise history. The franchise synonymy's for losing, lead the Nuggets 63-45, and looked poised to make their first run to the conference finals in their 50 year history.
But than reality set in. This is the Los Angeles Clippers. A team that has so angered the basketball gods that it's hard to find which moment exactly cursed them. The Nuggets finished the 2nd half 64-35 and won the game 111-98.
A few short days ago the Nuggets were down 3 games to 1, now there will be a game 7. The Nuggets are strangers to being down 3-1. In the previous round they trailed Utah 3-1 and the Jazz had a 16 point game 5 lead, and the Nuggets season looked over. But they prevailed. Last season, the Spurs had them down 3-1 and they prevailed in game 7. This will be the Nuggets 4th game 7 in 2 seasons.
The Nuggets have been here before, but that is not saying that the Clippers players haven't. As a team the Clippers have not been in a game 7 since 2017 when they lost to the Utah Jazz in the first round. But nobody from that roster 3 seasons ago is still on the Clippers today. But a lot of the Clippers players have appeared in game 7's in their career. Most notably Kawhi Leonard who hit a walk off buzzer beater last season while a member of the Toronto Raptors.
The change in the Clippers attitude and feelings could not be more in contrast from just a few days ago when they lead 3-1. According to bet365 NJ review, the Clippers had an 85% chance of winning the series, now going into game 7 they have just a 45% chance of winning.
The character of the Clippers has been called into question all season, mostly by Lakers fans and Lakers favorable media, who do not want to share the Hollywood spotlight with the Clippers. But sometimes the criticism is legitimate and due. Blowing a 19-point lead in a series clincher is one of those things that should get a team criticized. The Clippers have had a chance to advance to the conference finals 7 times in their franchise history, they are 0-7 in those games.
Making a conference finals would be franchise changing for the Clippers. The team has been good since Steve Ballmer purchased them from Donald Sterling, but they have always been a let down in the playoffs.
During every single series loss during the Chris Paul and Blake Griffin era, the Clippers lead the series after 3 games and in everyone of those series they would drop important games and get knocked out. in 7 of their last 10 playoff series they have lead the series 2-1 or 3-1 and lost the subsequent game, that includes the last round vs Dallas.
Of the 30 NBA teams only 3 have never appeared in a conference finals; the Clippers, the Hornets and the Pelicans. The only one of those 3 who have been remotely close has been the Clippers who in 2015, 2006, and 1975 came within one game of making the conference finals. Now here they are for a fourth time, and they could potentially fail to make it again.
The 50 year drought of not making a conference finals is also the longest in NBA history. The next closest, and which would take the active lead for the longest drought, is 44 years by the Atlanta Hawks. The Clippers are also the NBA's second oldest franchise without an NBA title, trailing only the Phoenix Suns (52 seasons) in that department. The Nuggets are oddly tied 4th with the Nets and Pacers in that department at 44 seasons. The Jazz are 3rd at 46.
While the Clippers history is maligned for its incompetence, the Nuggets have not been much better. They have made the conference finals in 2009, 1985 and 1978. They also do not have decades long playoff droughts. But like the Clippers, they have never won a title. They got close to an ABA title in the ABA's final season but lost.
The Nuggets are essentially playing with house money because nobody expected them to be here. Most fans thought they were out when they fell down 3-1 to Utah in the last round. They do not have the pressure of the Clippers either.
This lack of pressure is going to be a huge factor for the Nuggets. They just have to play their game. Their legacy is already set. This has been one of the most exciting Nuggets playoffs ever and they are still young. But still, they want to win this as bad as anyone.
They also have the benefit of experience. As a team they have been here before. If the game because close they know that they can execute their system and the pressure will not be there.
The Clippers have a better team, a better coach, better defense and better depth. But that does not always mean that you will win in the NBA playoffs. The Nuggets know this, back in 1994, as an 8th seed they faced the top seeded Seattle Sonics and pulled off one of the greatest upsets in NBA history.
In the end, the expectations placed upon the Clippers are going to be too much. The Nuggets will end up eking out a close win to advance to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.