Well, it looks like it’s time to bring out the post-loss specialist that Denver certainly won’t scheme for—me!  Both times that I have previously covered the Clippers for 213Hoops they were coming off of losses, but thanks to my inspirational previews, they were able to bounce back with some very big wins.  So, while the Clippers are coming off of a disappointing loss against the Nuggets, let’s see if this preview winning streak can be extended in Game 3.

Game Information

Where: The Most Magical Place on Earth (Orlando, Florida)

When: Monday, September 7th @ 6:00PM PT

How to Watch: TNT

Projected Starting Lineups

Nuggets (Home) : Gary Harris — Jamal Murray — Jerami Grant — Paul Milsap — Nikola Jokic 

Clippers (Away): Patrick Beverley — Paul George — Kawhi Leonard — Marcus Morris Sr. — Ivica Zubac

Injuries

Nuggets:  Will Barton Out (Knee), Vlatko Cancar Out (Foot), Nikola Jokic Questionable (Wrist)

Clippers:  None 

The Big Picture

Contrary to Kenneth’s advice in the Game 2 preview, the Clippers unfortunately did let up a bit (or a lot) in Game 2.  While there were many takeaways to be had, the game was really lost in the first quarter where the Nuggets scored 44 points on 72% shooting.  Falling behind by 19 points is obviously not an ideal situation, and while you can certainly point to areas that the Clippers needed to improve on, this was one of those instances where one team was in the zone and the other one wasn’t.  

The one bright spot that I saw throughout the otherwise painful-to-watch game was that the Nuggets are certainly prone to stretches of stagnation as well, which means that no lead is insurmountable for the Clippers.  In fact, the Clippers actually outscored Denver 76-66 after that 1st quarter massacre, but they were just never able to get over the hump due to unforced turnovers, missed free throws, and Denver (and by that I mean Gary Harris) making big shots to kill Clipper momentum.

That may all seem like a long winded way to say “the Clippers have to play better to start the game,” which is true, but it’s important to keep in mind that Denver also came out of the gates hot in Game 1 (only that time, the Clippers matched them blow for blow then proceeded to run away with it).  

We’ve seen stretches where the Clippers are absolutely locked in defensively, and it’s clear that when their defense is organized and sharp the offense flows much better.  I imagine the Clippers aren’t too happy with their Game 2 performance and will come out with more intensity.  Kawhi had 0 points in the 4th, PG struggled to get things going to close the game, and Bev was ejected on what was likely just an outburst of anger at how the game was generally going. 

Matchup wise, the key factor to keep an eye on is Jokic’s aggression on the offensive end.  He started Game 2 looking to score, and he absolutely punished Zubac in the post or from the perimeter due to some lethargic close outs.  This opened up the floor for others to operate and get to their spots.  I’d also keep an eye out on Kawhi, who struggled to find his shot throughout the game as indicated by some uncharacteristic misses near the rim as well as missed free throws.  Ultimately, I don’t think the gameplan has to change drastically, the Clippers simply have to make more shots and play with more intensity. 

The Antagonist

It’s important to acknowledge something that many Clipper fans didn’t after Game 1—the Nuggets are a good team.  They have solid defensive and offensive depth, and Jamal Murray and Jokic are truly fantastic players.  Defensively, Harris and Grant are menaces with active hands, high defensive IQ, and the latter has the strength to challenge Kawhi for positioning.  

While I firmly believe the Clippers are the more talented team, the success of either team is highly influenced by the role players.  Yesterday, all the Nuggets players stepped up.  Murray and Jokic were fantastic in the first half, and Monte Morris kept the momentum going by playing a lot like Trey Burke did in the first round.  Millsap and Harris proceeded to make big 3s in the 2nd half that kept them at a safe distance from the Clippers.  Grant and Harris defended Kawhi well, and while we can point to him missing shots that he usually makes, they played a big role in making him uncomfortable on the court.  The Nuggets role players were instrumental in their win last night, just like the Mavericks role players were instrumental in both of their wins against the Clippers.

We know the Clippers 2nd unit struggles defensively, but much of the success the Nuggets role players had was also against the Clippers starters. Like I said, the Nuggets are a good team, and the Clippers need to have a consistent team effort if they want to win Game 3 – and the series as a whole.

Notes

  • Montrezl Harrell:  Don’t get me wrong, Trez absolutely deserved the Six Man of the Year Award.  That recognition is, however, a regular season award, and it’s starting to look really hard to justify his ~19 minutes a game in these playoffs.  He’s simply not good enough defensively or dominant enough offensively to keep getting those minutes.  He needs to turn things around if Doc wants to use him as significantly as he has throughout the season.
  • Kawhi’s worst playoff game:  It’s already mentioned in the write up, but Game 2 was likely Kawhi’s worst game in the playoffs in a long time.  While Grant and Harris absolutely deserve credit for doing a good job, let’s not crown them Kawhi stoppers yet.  Kawhi has proven that he’s one of those players that you just can’t stop no matter what the defense throws at him.  Keep in mind that he averaged 35 PPG against Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, as well as 30 PPG against current DPOY Giannis Antetokounmpo.  If Grant and Harris turn out to be more effective Kawhi stoppers than the handful of elite defensive players that have tried their best to stop Kawhi in the past, then Denver absolutely deserves to win this one.
  • Jokic: It’s hard to really put how mesmerizing Jokic is in words, but WOW.  He hits rainbow 3s with ease and he just throws up wild hooks and jumpers that seem to go in through the power of some magic.  He’ll be hard to stop, but it goes back to slowing down everyone else, because there is not a single defender in the league who can guard some of the shots that he manages to make.

Well, that’s about it for Clippers-Nuggets Game 3. Comment on the game and the other playoff contests below!

129 Comments

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    I’m waiting for us to not only bounce back but to stay there for once. No need to trade-off games and risk getting bounced in the second round.

  • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

    If they’ve learned one thing and one thing only, it’s to come out with much more intensity. I’m sure the guys have watched that 1st qtr over and over again.

    Some think Nugs are playing mind games with Doc on Joker’s ?able status. Don’t think so. Gotta be legit. Regardless, Zu has to do a better job on the guy. Zu was totally ineffective, unable to close out and was just played for a sucker down low. Joker was salivating going v. Zu. Piss poor D, don’t care how talented Joker is. Need to strap Zu to a chair, tape his eyes open and make him watch what Joker did to him. Zu needs to get angry and even.

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

      I don’t think Zu was as bad as all that.

      • Avatar wwshep says:

        He was pretty bad, mostly on lethargic close outs on those 3’s Joker made that he had like 30 seconds to shoot. But bad Zu is nowhere even close to how awful Trez is on the defensive end.

        If we get bounced in round 2, Doc playing Trez too many minutes will be the reason why.

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

          I did notice those half-hearted closeouts. The entire team seemed off kilter for whatever reason. Morris was great in the first game, had nothing in this one, though he tried. That’s the NBA I guess.

          • Avatar mlslaw1 says:

            Zu makes it “look” like he’s closing out by raising that right hand high but he’s just way too late to make that hand raise have any affect at all. He needs help.

            Many NBA teams play the “we hope they miss some of those 3s” defense. You gotta do a lil more, without fouling. Good defensive teams can and it’s fun to watch. Ever see a 3 blocked? Prettiest play in Bball.

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

            Those are nice. I’m also partial to Kawhi’s sudden and vicious tomahawk dunks.

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      On the closeouts, Zu needs help. You can’t exactly ask a guy to play drop coverage to contain Murray’s drive and close out on Jokic’s pop. There’s 3 other guys on the court, we don’t need to be playing 2-on-2 against Denver’s best action while someone sits on Torrey Craig in the corner.

      In the post, the doubles are coming inconsistently and late.

      Also, gotta just come to terms with Jokic being the best offensive big man in the league. He’s gonna score 20+. Zu isn’t gonna shut him down, nobody is. He just averaged 26 against Gobert and the Jazz while shooting 52% from the field and 48% from deep.

  • Avatar Clipperfernald says:

    If Milos was still here the series would be over

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    If Bo Kimble and Olden Polynice were playing, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Let’s go Clips!

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Is it just me of is anyone else annoyed AF by the fact that every commercial for Clippers vs. Nuggets mentions NOTHING about the Clippers and is a fawning ode to Jamal Murray? Gimme a break!

    FU NBA!

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Listening to Doc on pregame. He definitely sends the right message.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Hmmm. Clips playing decent D. Denver is just making shots right now.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    I’m starting to wonder if we will EVER get a defensive stop on Denver. Jokic gets whatever he wants and the rest of the team shoots 100% from 3. Sigh!

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    OH NOOO!… Trez minutes. 🙁

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

    PG doing great. But Trez is in (shudder).

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Jokic is going to drop 50 on us. We have no answer.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Hard to tell. Are they calling ticky tack on Clippers centers or is Jokic really get hit? I guess the hope is to tire him out? Come 4th quarter maybe his legs are gone?

  • Avatar Minion94 says:

    Man Doc’s line ups are trash.
    Lou-Sham-Reggie-Kawhi-Trez???????

    What the hell

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Gotta get Trez out of the game!!!!. Nuggets are destroying us on the offensive glass.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Ugh…lineup right now has never learned how to box out

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Doc better be careful here

  • Avatar John Maclean says:

    Where’s Noah?

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Too many offensive rebounds for the Nuggets…

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Man…I really love Trez’s game and just the way he plays. But he’s absolutely getting picked on so far.

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

    Trez so bad.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    You can tell Doc is worried by the lineups he uses.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    This is some high intensity playoff basketball. I hate to say it, but Denver is just better right now. Clips need to hit some 3’s and open up the floor, game will change drastically. They have zero room to operate right now.

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

    Why not pass to open Kawhi? Why was Green dribbling?

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Looks like Clippers streak of not making it to WCF is going to continue. We got 1 game when Denver was tired out, but now they are clearly dominating us.

    I’m tuning out of this one to save myself the frustration.

    • Avatar sjake says:

      Easy Shep. Still a long game to go. A couple 3’s by the Clips will turn this around quick. Fun to see what kind of fight they have in them.

    • Avatar Niels Pineda says:

      Still a long series, but completely understand the frustration. They are just sloppy, which they can’t do against a team as good as the Nuggets.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Ugh…Denver making it look easy and we are having to work for our shots. Let’s go Clips!!

  • Avatar sjake says:

    There we go!!!! Leanord

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Oh crap…I didn’t realize wives and girlfriends are live there watching. You better believe these guys are going to play all out!!!

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

    Paul George is an awesome player.

    • Avatar sjake says:

      ehhh….I think a weee bit overrated so far. He feels like a good time player to me. Meaning, he is hitting his shots when there’s nothing on the line. We’ll see what he does for Clips when they absolutely need him to make a stop or hit a bucket. May not be this game, but at some they’ll need. If he can do it, then all those picks/players were worth it. If not, then it wasn’t.

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    took 1 1/2 qtrs to wake this team up!

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

    That was great. Started when Shep claimed he was checking out, lol

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Curious if Doc is going to put Harrell back in during 2nd half.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Oh crap….they are taking it to us right now.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    MF’er nothing you can do it if Joker is hitting that 3.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    I’m putting this shit on Doc. His offensive plan sucks.

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

    Harrell can’t make a shot. Sorry, he took too much time off.

    • Avatar sjake says:

      Yeah, very strange how he got so bad. Will he get “it” back is the question. He has value when he’s beasting and causing havoc. Both him and Lou have been so disappointing so far.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Cmon!!!! They are playing physical all game and you call ticky tack shit like that !!!

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Ooof Trez. Got to make that.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Ouch. How do you lose that guy on that last play of the 3rd?

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    lazy defense. Argh.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    OK…Here we go. Whose coming up big for the Clips???

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    If MPJ gets another dunk, I’m turning the tv off

  • Avatar sjake says:

    There just not hitting 3’s. What can you do?

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Can Clips come together and hit some shots??? Lets gooooo Clips!!!

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

    Should have gambled on MPJ. Rare fail by front office. But no one bats 1.000.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Wow…amazing what a couple made 3’s will do.

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Lou telling Zubac to muscle up…. OK, sown the stretch.

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    I’m not doing well over here. This is way too much stress.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    That was a tough call, but I’ll take it.

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Let’s see who’s tougher mentally

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Lawler’s law…

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Wow….that’s how you throw it down!

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Let’s break the law!!!

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Nuggets cracking under pressure. Keep it up clips

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Isnt’ JMG hurt?

  • Avatar sjake says:

    ugh…gotta get that rebound

  • Avatar sjake says:

    PG does an awful lot of ball and ref watching. How about you just play the game dude.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    GReat !!! rebound Lou

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Sweet Lou

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    KL delivering the goods!!!

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    THis is bad for my health. Need some Game 1-type wins.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Got to hit these free throws!!

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    You all deserve trophies for surviving tonight.

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

    That was wild, that stress is not healthy. PG came through under pressure. Kawhi’s wingman is quite a basketball player.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Hey guys what did I miss? 🙂

    Ha! Well of course I couldn’t tune out and just now finally starting to calm my frayed nerves from the nerve wracking game. Judging from the comments on this thread y’all were suffering the same torment.

    These cardiac Clips aren’t going to make it easy are they? But thank goodness we managed to squeak out a win in a game where Denver seemed like they really had us on the ropes. Game 1 was such a tease thinking we might get an easy series. But it seems like it’s gonna be a dogfight as usual.

    Some key takeways:

    1) PG13 is really starting to show us what we traded the mother lode for. He was masterful in this game and is the only reason we aren’t down 2-1. His offense was aggressive and seems he’s the only Clipper who can hit 3’s anymore. But even more important has been his defense. He has Jamal Murry in JAIL. Love the new Playoff P!

    2) We REALLY REALLY REALLY need to fix the turnover and offensive rebounding problems. We are dominating Denver in the half court but because of stupid turnovers and lazy effort on the glass (and small lineup with Trez who can’t rebound for shit), Denver is getting a huge advantage in shot attempts. They took 19 (!!!) more shots than us this game. You really aren’t going to win many games when that happens so we really dodged a bullet this game.

    3) What happened to our 3 point shooting??? Entire team is shooting well below their season averages at the same time. This is really a poor time to lose our 3 point shooting abilities. Kawhi has been especially bad in this regard. We could really use some mean reversion in the worst way.

    4) Jokic is giving me Luka flashbacks with his ability to single handedly take over the game on offense and we can’t seem stop him without fouling. Need to figure out a way to slow him down or this is going to be a long and nerve wracking series.

    5) Trez continues to be a liability with poor defense, and horrifically bad rebounding. And even more concerning he seems to have completely lost his ability to finish at the rim. Is it a conditioning problem or is his head just not right?… I have said Doc needs to bench him but Doc clearly isn’t going to do that. One maybe faint glimmer of hope is that Trez did an admirable job in the final minutes closing out at center after Zu fouled out. Maybe just maybe that will get his head screwed back on again (?).

    Anyway, thankful to be 2-1 and I can actually sleep a little easier tonight, as a loss here would have been close to panic time. Let’s hope that somehow Clips can regain that game 1 magic in game 4 for the sake of all our mental and emotional health. 🙂

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

      Knew you weren’t actually going anywhere, haha. Our team reached down deep and pulled it out. I think Clippers fans need to have more appreciation for PG. He’s a super talent and came through under huge pressure in this game. This is going to be harder than many expected. Jokic is unreal. I’m just hoping for the best the rest of the way against that team.