After a blowout victory in Game 1, the Clippers take on the Nuggets in Game 2 in what will probably be a somewhat more competitive contest.

Game Information

Where: Happiest Place on Earth, Orlando, FL

When: 6:00 PM PT

How to Watch: TNT

Projected Starting Lineups

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

Nuggets: Gary Harris — Jamal Murray — Jerami Grant — Paul Millsap — Nikola Jokic

Injuries

Clippers: None

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

The Big Picture

Clippers Nuggets Game 1 went just about as well as the Clippers could have asked. The Nuggets, with only one day off after a tough series, did not put up much of a fight, especially on the defensive end. But although the Clippers’ offense was insanely efficient (57% from the floor, including 42% from three), we don’t (yet) have reason to believe that the Nuggets can consistently slow down Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, or the Clippers’ bench. They earned a 110.4 defensive rating (16th in the league) over the regular season, and we saw what Donovan Mitchell was able to do against them. Even with rest and a chance to review Game 1’s tape, the Clippers should be able to press on the gas on Saturday.

My biggest source of confidence comes from the fact that the Clippers scored from all over in Game 1. They outscored the Nuggets 66-40 in the paint, put up 30 points from three, and were 14/17 from the free throw line. This, of course, is made possible by having a full and healthy roster, which happened for only the 13th time all season on Thursday. The Clippers will enjoy the same luxury today, as they have again reported no injuries. Given the lack of rest between games, it’s possible that the Nuggets will remain at a rest deficit, and will fall to another blowout to the Clippers in Game 2.

The Antagonist

There is a credible chance, of course, that the Clippers won’t be able to replicate their scoring from Game 1: Marcus Morris Sr. was 7/10 from the field (4/5 from three); Kawhi was 12/16, and Patrick Beverly — perhaps riding an adrenaline from his return — scored eight points in just 12 minutes. This could easily prove to the a house of cards. If the Clippers shot even 50% from the field, instead of nearly sixty, the game could have easily been competitive throughout the night instead of a blow out.

The Nuggets’ fatigue should also not be waved off as insignificant too quickly. The Clippers had four days off before they met Denver, which was huge for guys like Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverly, who are still not completely ready to compete at a high level. All of the Nuggets starters (except for Murray, for some reason) played fewer than 30 minutes, so they likely will be more physically prepared for Saturday. There’s no reason that a renewed Denver couldn’t punch the Clippers in the mouth, especially given that the Clippers have a tendency to “play down” to their opponents. Therefore, it’s quite possible that Game 2 is a close affair, or even that the Clippers play from behind for much of the game against a renewed Nuggets’ attack.

Those are my two perspectives for how I think Clippers vs. Nuggets Game 2 could play out. It’s hard to have more notes when the first game was such a walkover, but we should have a better idea of how the series will take shape after this one. Let us know how you think it will play out in the comments!

31 Comments

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

    Viewing things through my fashionable pair of Clippers rose-colored glasses, I’m expecting three more wins somehow or other (not going to all be blowouts, but hopefully no more than five games), then on to the WCF. The Lakers looked relatively shambolic vs. the Rockets last night. The small-ball three-point-hoisting Rockets look great on the defensive side, which is wild. Pretty confident this current iteration of the Clippers with everyone finally healthy can take the Lakers (or Rockets!) if it comes to that. Mainly because of the godly board man, Playoff P, and their unusually deep supporting cast.

  • Avatar ksihoo says:

    Both scenarios described by you are equally realistic to me. However, it would be nice to see the Clippers not relaxing after securing a series lead for once. This has been the tendency whole season (frustrating loses coming right after some big wins) but I would expect the things to be differrent this time around. We are now on a three-game stretch of building the championship form and I got the feeling that everyone will be determined to keep it going and not to give the Nuggets any hope that they can stay competitive in the series. There is 11 to go, so every win brings as closer, which everyone is aware of.

  • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

    Don’t think for a minute that KL will let all the media praise go to his head. But, not so sure about the other guys. Guessin there will be some sort of let up. Another challenge for Doc.

    The Lake show is another matter entirely. Needless to say, the best case clips scenario is a long ass dog fite series for the Lakes and a quick one for the clips. OTOH, that didn’t help the Lakes very much vs. Rox who should have been gassed but, somehow, weren’t. The Rox, obviously, are a very dangerous team who can even play better than they did last nite.

    • Avatar dhpat says:

      As much as enjoyed the Rockets beating the Lakers handily, the Lakers will make adjustments — why is Anthony Davis settling for 3pt shots. If he can get low on the block early, the Rockets cannot defend him. If the Lakers win today, they should take the series in 6. If not, then it will be a toss up.
      Good to see former Clipper Eric Gordon healthy and attacking.
      I walked by the tv late the 4th quarter, and I saw Austin Rivers playing. I asked my wife if Austin already fell down, she said yes. Ha! Ha! Whooo!

      • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

        Hot take incoming:

        I’d say that Vogel will be a gonner if Lakes lose this series. Guess you could say the same think about Doc. But you know, that’s pro sports for ya.

        • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

          Vogel has less job security than Doc. Doc is a bit of a Clippers institution. Not saying he should be immune from criticism or even replacement if the team falls drastically short of expectations and it’s his fault, but Vogel is still in his first year on an extremely short leash. If they lose this series I do think he will likely be gone, though to be fair it’s the roster that’s bad, not the gameplan.

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    Clippers body language still looks good. We just need to get some of these shots to fall. Obviously, PG13 off to a rough start with the blown layups, but I actually think he does a lot of things well that people don’t talk about even when the shots aren’t falling.

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    Awful quarter. I hope that humbles us a bit. Still, our body language looks alright still.

    • Avatar ajk777 says:

      What do you mean by “body language?” I’m not seeing much of anything except them not being tenacious and having the desire to play good basketball. That pass to Jackson from Lou was absolutely stupid. Jackson wasn’t paying attention at all and wasn’t trying to looking for the ball, and Lou shouldn’t have passed to heavy traffic like that.

      Easy stuff that the Clippers seem to not care to clean up.

  • Avatar ajk777 says:

    Not looking great so far. Clippers just letting these guys get easy buckets or threes that should be defended, and Clippers being careless. Need to step it up fast.

  • Avatar John Maclean says:

    This is the Nuggets team I feared. “What scares me most is Jokic and MPJ getting cute from three.” Yep.

  • Avatar ajk777 says:

    Ok PG13, I see you!

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    What do you all think of Doc’s decision to allow the Clippers to play out of their funk?

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

    Such a raggedy start. Pretty ass, really. That small lineup for awhile wasn’t good. Let’s come from behind and win.

  • Avatar ajk777 says:

    Kawhi playing like absolute garbage right now. Seems like he’s sucked up whatever PG13 had before.

    Ihdk how Kawhi’s making himself look as bad as PG13, and PG13’s actually doing well tonight for once.

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

      Rare poor game for Kawhi. Denver has been playing with far more energy the entire game.

      • Avatar ajk777 says:

        Extremely rare. I think this is the first time I’ve seen him play THIS bad. Literally all of his shots have just not gone down. The way he was making some of his 3’s didn’t look good. He better shake that crap out by next game.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Let’s go Clips. Time to make a run!

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Still loss of time. Need a burst

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Ugh… that’s not ball game with the Harris 3 , but Clips don’t have much wiggle room anymore

  • Avatar Alan Ng says:

    They’ll bounce back on game 3.

    They cannot play that bad defensively on the first quarter. Kawhi will play better but defense has to better on Jokic and Murray. Make them suffocate.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Wow! What a frustrating game that was.

    Nuggets came out with energy and aggression and we came out passive and tentative, Game got out of hand within the first few minutes of the 1st Quarter and while we chipped away the rest of the game the hole was dug too deep giving up a 44 point 1st Quarter.

    Clips defense was good enough the last 3 Quarters that they should have been able to take the lead but their offense was just too horrible They had an inexcusable 17 turnovers versus just 20 assists. YIKES!…

    Kawhi had his worst playoff game in forever with only 13 points on a putrid 4-17 shooting with 4 TOs and at one point even missed back to back free throws. What a stinker. So much for the Terminator. I guess his software needs an bug fix.

    Trez continues to be a huge liability whenever he’s on the court. His offensive game is just not there. Seems like he has lost his hops. And he just cannot secure a rebound such that when he’s in the game Denver gets second and third chance points by the boatlaods. In 17 minutes he only secured a mere 3 rebounds vs. Zu who had 9 in 20 minutes. And Zu also had 15 points to Trez’s 10. No way they should be splitting minutes evenly.

    PG13 was one of the lone bright spots for the Clips, but even he had 4 TO’s and missed some easy layups early in the 1st Quarter which got Denver’s momentum started. But PG13 stayed aggressive and kept the Clippers within striking distance considering that Kawhi was missing in action.

    So, just when it seemed like the team was rolling after game 1 domination we get a stinker like this. Not sure why this team just cannot maintain focus and take care of business. Let’s really hope this was a wake up call and whatever the hell happened to Kawhi this game gets fixed quickly. You just can’t let inferior teams hang around like this and build confidence and momentum.

    • Avatar ajk777 says:

      Welp. On the bright side, you can now come back and join us on gameday threads since you’re not the curse of the Clippers problems. Lol!

      I agree with most of your analysis, though. Kawhi was hot garbage tonight, and HE CANNOT CONTINUE TO DO THAT. Like EVER. I’m not expecting him to be 100% perfect. But he can’t be an abysmal 4/17, not defend all that well, and just basically do nothing for most of the game. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt this time since this was a complete rarity for him. But please don’t let it happen again. Without Kawhi, we’re not winning any games.

      Regarding Montrezl, I think not being a part of the bubble has just hurt his game. And the rebounding, I think it’s not just a Montrezl problem. It’s a team problem, and I see it WAAAAYYYY too much with NBA teams. I don’t understand why these NBA coaches don’t drill offensive rebounding drills AND keeping players near the rim until the ball gets into a players hand into players heads until they explode. It was a common problem with the Big 3 in Miami, it’s a common problem with the Rockets, it’s a common problem with the Hornets, and it’s a common problem with us. There are other teams who don’t have this problem, but they aren’t exactly a majority. All I know is I’m sick of NBA teams not emphasizing offensive rebounds and staying at the rim until the ball gets into a player’s hands. And I’m sick of players running away once the ball somehow hits the rim. All of those things need to be eliminated from the game entirely. It just shows a lack of effort by players and coaches, which hurts the overall product AND it hurts the kids that look up to these players because it warps their mind of not having to worry about offensive rebounding or just defending overall.

      Clippers need to take a good, long look at themselves for the next day and a half and figure out how they’re going to win this series AND the rest of the way forward.

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

    Malone had his team ready to go and Doc did not. Denver swarmed Kawhi on every possession and Doc could do nothing to counteract that? Shouldn’t a head coach be expected to make some kind of adjustment in that event? And then a big run with Doc once again not reacting in any way. How about a time out, for God’s sake? Doc’s coaching win-loss record in the playoffs for his career going into this game was barely above .500. Doc Rivers is a great human being and wonderful personality, but as far as coaching goes, he often seems to lack something.

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      To be fair, winning half of your games in the playoffs is hard! Active coaches above .525:

      Steve Kerr: stepped into his 1st HC job with a historic dynasty
      Nick Nurse: again, got his 1st HC job in a great situation and only has 31 games coached
      Erik Spoelstra: got to coach the LeBron big 3 dynasty
      Pop: got Duncan’s whole career
      Gentry: only 30 playoff games coached w/ just 3 appearances in 17 seasons as a HC

      Then a bunch of guys in the Doc range. Doc also has 16 appearances in 21 seasons, so he’s making the playoffs more often than other guys. It’s a tough metric to use. Carlisle has a below-.500 playoff win% despite being regarded as one of the best coaches in basketball, since he pulls more mediocre rosters in to the playoffs where they lose in the first round. Like should our 4 losses vs GSW last year be held against Doc when it took a great coaching performance to bring us to the 8-seed at all?

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

        You know NBA basketball far better than I do. Thanks.

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

          *But I’m still not happy with Doc’s coaching in this game. I’ve followed the NBA for decades.

          • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

            Yeah, I mean I thought Doc could have been better. The lineups with 4 reserves aren’t gonna fly at this level of competition. I’m fine w/ Green over Zu but if he isn’t resting to close the game, then Zu should be playing the 2nd unit minutes instead of Trez, who has been awful. Also Clips felt disorganized on defense and that’s a gameplan problem.

            But the real problem in G2 was the shot-making disparity. Kawhi missed shots that he’s gonna make most of the time. The Nuggets made 7 threes in the first quarter. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.