Game 1 saw the Nuggets lose by 23 points in which they shot 42% from the field and 25% from behind the arc. Defensively, they allowed the Clippers to shoot 57% from the field and 42% from behind the arc. Hence Malone’s desire for a better defensive effort.
After being blitzed by the LA Clippers in Game 1, Nuggets coach, Michael Malone, wanted his team to be the aggressors on defense and play better one-on-one defense. Not only did the Nuggets to that, they completely flipped the script in the first quarter and win Game 2 wire-to-wire.
The Nuggets opened Game 2 by scoring the first 5 points. Nuggets shot 71% from the field and hit 7 three points in the first quarter. This offensive outburst gave the Nuggets a 44-25 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Early in the 2nd Quarter, the Nuggets pushed the lead to 23 at 54-31. However, the hot shooting Nuggets eventually cooled off and had a stretch of 8 possessions without putting any points on the board. Fortunately for the Nuggets, the Clippers were not able to take too much advantage of the offensive shut down. The Clippers eventually used a 14-3 run to get within 11, but the Nuggets led 72-56 at the half.
Denver got some much needed offense from their two leading scorers, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. In Game 1, Murray and Jokic score 12 and 15 points respectively. At the half, Murray had 20 and Jokic added 24.
Coming out of the break, the Clippers were able to hold Murray and Jokic to just 2 points and holding the Nuggets to 3-19 from the field. This would bode well for a team that is trying to make a comeback; however, shooting 4-14 themselves in the quarter only allowed them to shave Denver’s lead by 4. Denver led at the end of the 3rd, 89-77.
Before the 4th Quarter began, Clippers coach, Doc Rivers stated that defensively, they did a much better job getting into the Nuggets, but they lacked efficiency on offense. The Clippers needed to take advantage of their defensive uptick in the 3rd to make a much needed run at the Nuggets. The Clippers were able to cut it to 5 points after a three pointer from Paul George with 8:36 remaining.
The next possession for the Nuggets, Jokic scored his first 2 points of the half followed by back-to-back threes by Gary Harris pushed the lead back to 13, and the Nuggets never looked back; winning Game 2, 110-101.
Thanks to 71% shooting in the opening 12 minutes, the Nuggets were able to hang on thanks to their defense that held the Clippers to 41% shooting from the field and 9-32 (28%) from behind the arch.
If there is anything that the NBA games in the Bubble have proven is that one should expect the unexpected. Without home court advantages, anything is possible in the playoffs.