The Clippers and Nuggets both come off of tightly contested series, but circumstances conspired to give the latter much less time to recover before Game 1. How will that factor into Game 1?

Game Information

Where: The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Orlando, FL

When: 6:00 PM PT

How to Watch: TNT

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: TBD — Paul George — Kawhi Leonard — Marcus Morris Sr. — Ivica Zubac

Nuggets: Monte Morris — Jamal Murray — Jerami Grant — Paul Millsap — Nikola Jokic

Injuries

Clippers: QUESTIONABLE — Patrick Beverley (calf)

Nuggets: OUT — Will Barton (knee), OUT — Vlatko Cancar (foot)

The Big Picture and the Antagonist

So after all the drama — the ejections, the buzzer-beaters, the hand-wringing, six games, and seven games — we ended up right where we expected to be, with the No. 2 Clippers and No. 3 Nuggets in the second round.

We have excellent series previews here on the site: Lucas Hann has 72,000 words for the readers among you, while Shap joins him on The Lob, The Jam, The Podcast for those stuck on the treadmill.

I haven’t much else to add yet specifically for the Clippers or Nuggets, but for Game one, look for two factors to have an acute impact. First, will Patrick Beverley be available and relatively unhindered? Doc Rivers said his starting point guard will play for sure in the series and for “pretty sure” tonight. Beverley is the fuel that ignites this team. Blaming his absence for the Clippers’ inconsistent focus and intensity against the Mavericks would be unfair, but having him on the court raises the team’s floor for both. Defense at the point of attack is critical, and if you hadn’t noticed, the Nuggets’ Jamal Murray is an explosive triggerman. (He dropped 50 on the Jazz. Twice.) A healthy Beverley can plug a defensive hole — cough, Reggie Jackson, cough cough — and save the legs of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for their scoring burden and late-game possessions.

Second, is it more important to have rest or rhythm? The Nuggets will take the floor tonight fewer than 48 hours after their Game 7 rock fight against Utah. The Clippers haven’t played since their Sunday matinee, and because of the players’ strike hadn’t played since the Tuesday before that. Denver may have sharper muscle memory, if they can get their muscles to work at all. Three full days without competition isn’t extraordinary, so the Clippers should have gathered little dust, but they’ve had just the one game in an eight-day span overall. The first quarter may be telling.

Game Notes

A Reminder to Forget: The Clippers and Nuggets have met just once so far in the bubble, with the Clippers clinching the second seed in their penultimate regular season tilt. And from that game we can take . . . very little. Neither team appeared to push very hard until the third quarter, and the Nuggets also decided not to do so after. Beverley, Landry Shamet, Montrezl Harrell, and Gary Harris all missed that game. Jerami Grant looked like Pascal Siakam (regular season version). The lone relevant takeaway may be that when Kawhi decides to get going, there’s nobody in a Denver uniform that can really slow him.

Morris Pays but Stays: Marcus Morris Sr. appears to have escaped suspension, but was left $35,000 lighter after the NBA fined him for the Flagrant Foul 2 on Luka Doncic that earned him an ejection. Doc has said he thought Morris wasn’t ejected for the act but for his reputation. Either way, you can bet the officials will have their eyes on him.

MPJ’s Revenge: Michael Porter Jr. told reporters yesterday that the Clippers passed on him because team doctors thought he “would never play basketball again”. (The story makes sure you know that the Clippers passed on Porter twice. Let’s all go ahead and agree they were taking Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and reduce that to once.) Doc confirmed that the team had obvious injury concerns. After lighting up the pre-postseason segment of the bubble, Porter cooled some, even losing his starting spot to Jerami Grant. The Clippers appear to be on the young 6’10” forward’s mind. With their eyes justifiably on Jokic and Murray, will Porter be able to return the favor?

That’s it for Clippers-Nuggets Game one. Comment on the game below!

Thomas Wood

Thomas Wood

Writing about the Clippers since 2014 and also since 2019.

21 Comments

  • Josh Josh says:

    What I noticed is that the Clips starters are all bigger than the Nuggets. Our bench are much smaller. I think key for this series is outmuscle and outhustle

  • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

    Come out firing with mad dog Pat Bev leading the assault. Get out the broom, go to work, and sweep, sweep, sweep as predicted by Bleacher Report. Stay cool and enjoy the process as the Boardman likes to say.

  • Avatar Morty CA says:

    Sixers closing in on a deal with TY Lue

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Jokic has scored but thse buckets haven’t been easy

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Trez looking better tonight.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Playoff Kawhi is amazing

  • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

    Kawhi is the best basketball player on the planet. Morris has been great, George is Playoff P again. Draymond on TNT? Glad to not have to suffer through a Sieman/Chauncey broadcast with those bozos talking nonsense about themselves through several plays.

  • lying dog-faced pony soldier lying dog-faced pony soldier says:

    Clippers coming together nicely. Kawhi is .

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Allright! Allright! Allright!

    So, sticking with what working, Clips continue to be undefeated when I wait until after the game to post a comment on the game thread. Going to stick with this until we get that chip.

    This was a fantastic all around game for the Clippers. The offense was crisp and fluid throughout the game. The defense was a little lax in the 1st quarter but from the end of the 1st quarter they tightened up looked great. Pretty close to a flawless showing and definitely looked the part of a championship contender.

    It was so nice and unusual for us Clipper fans to have a game where there really was never any real fear or stress of losing. Other than a few moments in the 1st quarter Clips felt in control the whole way. I could really get used to seeing more games like this from the Clips. If they maintain this level of focus and effort, and most importantly stay healthy, hopefully Clips can make quick work of Denver. Jokic is tough but he’s no Luka thankfully.

    Trez still looks to be shaking off the rust but definitely was not as much of a liability than what we saw vs. Mavs so that’s also a relief. And every other Clipper ranged from solid to spectacular tonight. The return of Pat Bev was really the X-factor that takes this team to a whole new level.

    Fun win, now NO LET UP! Let’s make quick work of the Nuggs.

    GOOOOO CLIPS!