After finishing a tough 7 game series with the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, September 1, Denver had to get after it just two days later with their Western Conference Semifinal series with the LA Clippers. On paper, this series should go to the Clippers with the stars like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers were also able to welcome back Patrick Beverly and Montrezl Harrell
Both teams started quickly offensively. The Clippers started the game 13-21 from the field; while the Nuggets went 13-20. The First Quarter ended with the Clippers and the Nuggets tied at 31. One concern for Nuggets coach, Michael Malone, stated that Denver will need to do a better job defending the paint after giving up 18 First Quarter points.
The 2nd Quarter started with both teams trading baskets to see the score tied at 36 at the 8:35 mark. The Clippers then blitzed the Nuggets over the final 8 minutes, 33-15. Giving the Clippers an 18 point lead at the break.
In the first half, the Clippers shot 63% from the field, compared to 43% for the Nuggets. One of the main reasons for the Clippers’ hot hands can be contributed to the 36 points that the Clippers scored in the paint. Going 7-15 from behind the arc didn’t hurt either.
Not much changed coming out of the break. The Clippers continued to get easy baskets and Denver struggled to score. After scoring 31 points in the first quarter, Denver only managed to score 36 over the second and third quarters. By the time the game was finished, the Clippers were able to beat the Nuggets, 120-97.
Fueled by 66 points in the paint, shooting 57% from the field, and 42% from behind the arc, the Clippers were able to coast to a Game 1 victory over the Nuggets.
The scoring output that the Nuggets enjoyed in the first round did not show itself in Game 1. Jokic and Murray, who averaged 25.3 and 31.6 respectively, were far shy of those totals through the first 3 quarters. Jokic provided 15 and Murray 12. If Denver has any hope for the series, these two are going to have to produce a much better offensive output. If not, this series could be finished in four.