The Clippers take on the Nuggets in Game 5 up 3-1 with a chance to move to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.

Game Information

Where: Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida

When: 3:30 PM PT

How to Watch: TNT

Projected Starting Lineups

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

Clippers: Patrick Beverley – Paul George – Kawhi Leonard – Marcus Morris – Ivica Zubac

Injuries

Nuggets: Will Barton Out, Vlatko Cancar Out

Clippers: None

The Big Picture

The Clippers are up 3-1, and have won each of their three games in a different way. Game one was an onslaught against a tired and ill-prepared Nuggets team which quickly became a blowout. Game three was a gusty, come-from-behind victory where the Clippers were outplayed most of the evening but found a way to pull out the win. And Game four was a grind-it-out defensive matchup that saw the Clippers shut down a talented Nuggets’ offense and win handily in a game where their offense struggled mightily. That has to give the Clippers’ confidence, because when you can win games in a variety of ways, you’re generally pretty damn good.

The Clippers have also won with a mostly mediocre series from star Paul George offensively (though he’s been far better than he was against the Mavs), and with poor shooting from supersub Lou Williams. The fact that most of their shooters (outside of Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson, who have sizzled) have been cold and they’ve still dealt with the Nuggets is yet more promising news. If those guys start hitting more outside shots in Game 5, the Clippers could start to look like the juggernaut they were projected to be – and finish off the Nuggets in the process.

The Antagonist

The Nuggets have played hard. And they have, for the most part, executed well. However, they have had two huge issues. First, Game 2 aside, they’ve been completely unable to stop or even slow Kawhi Leonard, who was taken over at will against the relatively strong defense of Jerami Grant. The second, and perhaps bigger problem, is that nobody outside of Nikola Jokic has proven able to consistently create offense or score the basketball. Jamal Murray, their breakout star against the Jazz in the 1st round, has been completely locked down by Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Patrick Beverley. Michael Porter Jr. got hot in the first half of Game 4, but as soon as the Clippers started paying real attention to him, he quieted down. The rest of the Nuggets, like Grant, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap, have made open shots, but have not really been able to punish the Clippers in any real way on mismatches. Torrey Craig has been ignored on offense. Mason Plumlee has been invisible on that end as well. Overall, the Nuggets’ high-powered offense just hasn’t been able to get into gear.

What adjustments can the Nuggets make? Well, they could try starting Michael Porter Jr. over Paul Millsap to juice the offense a little bit. That would make the defense even worse, as Porter has been repeatedly targeted by the Clippers on that end, but Millsap hasn’t been very effective on that end either, and has done nothing on offense outside of Game 2. Malone could also bench Torrey Craig, who’s a good defender but has made little real impact, in favor of PJ Dozier, who is somewhat more capable offensively. On offense, rather than running through the locked down Murray, the Nuggets could try shifting their creation elsewhere. Still, those aren’t great answers.

Notes

Will Doc Keep a Short Rotation: Doc Rivers cut the Clippers rotation from 10 to 9 players in Game 4 by removing Reggie Jackson and giving more of his minutes to Patrick Beverley. As Beverley gets back into game shape he will demand more minutes, which will probably come from Landry Shamet (and Lou Williams to a lesser extent). Still, the effects of removing Jackson were evident in the Clippers’ defense, which looked much better without its weakest perimeter defender. Expect Jackson to be out of the rotation moving forward barring foul trouble, but it’s possible Doc gives him at least a few minutes in this one to keep him fresh and ready down the line.

Defending Jokic: The only player who the Clippers have had any real difficulty with this series has been Nuggets’ superstar Nikola Jokic. Even though the Clippers did a very good job on him in Game 4, he still put up 26 points and 6 assists. The key for the Clippers was forcing Jokic into 11-23 shooting and giving him just two free throw attempts. While he will probably shoot better than 2-7 from three, the Clippers are winning their battle against him if he’s taking that many shots from deep and operating outside the paint. Credit to Ivica Zubac for his defense on Jokic, and the rest of the Clippers for their smart double-teams, hedges, and rotations. Their defense on him was phenomenal, and if they can pull that off again in Game 5 they should be able to seal the series.

That’s about all I have for Clippers-Nuggets Game 5. Check out Sanjesh’s article on the struggles of Montrezl Harrell and Lucas’ piece on rooting interests. Comment on the game and Raptors-Celtics Game 7 below!

80 Comments

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    If the game stays close, I hope Doc plays Patterson or Noah. Especially, Noah is good at the whole boxing-out thing, rotating, closing out aggressively and HELP & RECOVERY. He’s not going to score 20+ pts and he doesn’t need to do that because he won’t give up easy points on every possession like Trez. Zu-JaMychal-Patterson/Noah rotation is enough. Not Trez.

    People who defend Trez need to realize that it’s the Playoffs. It’s not the regular season where Trez can dominate bench bigs like inexperienced young players or G-league players. If you’ve actually watched games, not stats sheets of blowout games or Youtube highlights, you could easily understand what I’m saying. Many writers here who know about basketball much more than me also have noticed this Trez’ problem.

    Boxing-out, rotating, closing out… All these little things matter in the Playoffs.

    • Robert Flom Robert Flom says:

      Considering we haven’t seen either of those guys thus far, I doubt Doc plays them in a close-out game to get to the WCF. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I’d be shocked to see those guys get real minutes at this point.

      • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

        Yes… Doc is a players coach so I know he won’t bench Trez all night.
        But I always feel like we’re losing everytime Trez is on the floor. So, my only hope is that Doc will give Zu/JaMychal/Sham all of Trez’s minutes.

        • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

          Game 4 was a good indication of how to better use Trez. Trez was much better defensively in Game 4. The difference between this game and the prior 3 games was that the team played at a faster pace. When the team plays faster, that is much more to Trez’s strength. If the game slows down, Trez actually suffers for it and his performance isn’t as good. The guys getting into their offense faster and having Kawhi run off ball to receive the ball via handoffs to get him going down hill instead of bullying the other players into his spot helps put the Denver defense into a bind. When Kawhi is just backing down into his post up, it is really easy for 3 defenders to draw into him. Also, all the transition buckets from the team getting out and running is in a strength of Trez too for him to be running the court.

          • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

            Was he better defensively? I saw at least 3 plays where he made a lazy gamble to put himself out of position and then ball-watched. And that wasn’t me going through the tape looking for Trez errors, it was just 3 egregious plays that stood out to me in real time.

            I think Doc is the one who gets credit for playing Pat Bev with Trez so that when Trez gets out of position and stands at the 3PT line watching his guards try to rebound, there are better rebounding guards down there. Actually getting DREBs = finishing the defensive possessions when Denver happens to miss instead of giving them second- and third-chance shots, and getting DREBs instead of taking the ball out of the net = being able to play at a faster pace offensively. But at the end of the day, having your C actually try on defense and the glass is still sorely needed.

            FWIW, in G4: Clips w/ Trez had a 89.5 ORTG/97.2 DRTG, Clips w/o Trez had a 112.7 ORTG/89.3 DRTG. He hurts our offense as much as our defense.

  • Avatar Thretch says:

    Thanks for updating the time. I see what you did there.

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Every Clipper fan has been conditioned (beaten?) into not looking forward, but I really hope we close them out tonight. No more heart attack Clips. I want this series done and on to the next challenge.

    • weekend weekend says:

      True story. It is so difficult for me to optimistic…Let’s get this win tonight! Looks like the Lakers will win their series in 5, so let’s make sure we get an extra day of rest…

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      The longer you’ve been a fan, the more severe your PTSD symptoms are. Here’s hoping that these symptoms vanish after the season is over.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    All I’m hearing right now is the “FINISH HIM” sound byte from Mortal Kombat.

  • Avatar John Maclean says:

    I expect Kawhi to be even more aggressive at both ends. He’ll be looking for his own shot more, rebound like a demon and produce a myriad of defensive gems. The LAST thing he wants is to have to play another game so he will lay it all out there tonight. Let’s hope we don’t get into foul trouble or get screwed by bad officiating. It would be incredibly helpful to Lebron and the Lakers if the latter were to happen which scares me more than anything else…..

  • Avatar Mario Molina says:

    its Insane how things work out. I was so sad when Griffin left and felt like the Clippers would be bad for a long time. Every one kept saying trust in West. Now look they have a chance to do something they’ve never done. It’s amazing how Jerry West can turn things around so fast. Clippers fans deserve this. So many years of never being relevant. Our time may have finally come.

  • Avatar osamu6238 says:

    Wow, House out for the remainder of the playoffs. I thought at worst he’d get a 10-day quarantine.

    Wonder if it was a different team, would they do the same? Maybe he just chose to leave, given he would likely need daily deep nasal testing, and why put up with that if you’re probably leaving anyways before the 10 days is up.

    • Avatar chogokin says:

      I’ve seen a lot of conflicting news/rumors about him (female “tester,” door opening/closing evidence, other teammates trying to take the fall for him, etc.) all over the interwebs. It’ll be interesting to see what the actual story is, assuming we ever get an official and/or credible explanation.

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Let’s go guys! WCF!!!

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    Here to (hopefully) witness history this afternoon!

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Great start!

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    C’mon, Trez. At least *try* on defense.

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    One more solid half to go!!!

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Getting Josh Smith vibes…

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    It’s sad how everyone is so surprised that Millsap is having a good game. Considering his contract and the fact that he was an all-star 4 years in a row only a few years ago, that just shows how much he has disappointed this year.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Cmon Clips. Let’s go!

  • Avatar sjake says:

    What happened to the Clips bench?

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Also, Lou needs to hit his 3’s

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Good job lou on the pass!

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Denver playing hard on D right now

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Get Zu back in

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Why doesn’t Doc have his starters in?? Take Lou and Harrell out.

  • Avatar sjake says:

    Harrell, Harrell, Harrell…you can’ t expect the refs to bail you out.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Can someone tell me why Doc has left Trez in for this entire Denver run?

  • Avatar kylethepile says:

    Lol. Jesus

  • Avatar Minion94 says:

    This is good, Doc needs to get burned for his stubborn head to realize this team can’t defend with Trez.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    It’s not that Trez has played too many minutes. It’s *which* minutes he’s played – Doc needed to bench him way sooner.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Existence is pain.

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    If we lose this game, it’s at least partially on Lou Williams.

  • Avatar chogokin says:

    Doc brought Lou back in, he bricks a wide open 3, and MPJ immediately hits a dagger right over him.

  • Avatar Minion94 says:

    Jesus thats the one and only thing Porter does, rise up for three. Be right on him

  • Avatar Minion94 says:

    If Trez is still playing significant minutes during the playoffs, I’m going to lose my mind.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      -9 net rating tonight in a game we lost by 6. 3 of 7 form the floor jacking up wild forced shots inside taking baskets away from our better scoring options. He’s a fucking disaster on the court. And Lou is choking royally with his 2-10 shooting.

      Lou and Trez and Doc’s loyalty to them is what is going to cost us this series.

  • Avatar toiago toiago says:

    Doc should’ve challenged that Jokic flop. It was around that point that the run started and it could’ve dampened the enthusiasm of the Nuggets team. Moreover, the fact that Kawhi only reentered at around the 8 minute mark with the Clippers already trailing by 6 was the nail on the coffin. He should’ve called a timeout as soon as they tied, or even sooner. This one’s on Doc, surely.

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    This is why we can’t have nice things. Fuck.

  • Avatar Mario Molina says:

    Damn horrible coaching today. Doc needs to manage runs better. Hopefully he learns from this. When Harrell is in our defense falls apart and he ball hogs on offense. What’s Docs obsession with Harrell. Im not saying to bench Harrell but limit his limits.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      But I was told Trez was a good player and we needed to show him some love last game. Hmmmm…

    • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

      “Hopefully he learns from this.”

      Spoiler alert: he won’t. He never learned from the Lob City failures. He’s a terrible coach with an inflated ego.

  • Avatar ajk777 says:

    Fuck Doc. He’s the reason why we lost tonight. If we lose this series, he better be fired.

  • Scriabin Scriabin says:

    This all seems way too familiar…and the common denominator is Rivers…

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    How many wake up calls does this team need?

    And I’ve been saying, play Patterson/Noah over Trez. I’m glad some of you guys finally realized that he’s unplayable. He’s just a guy who wants to act like a BEAST and put stats in the regular-season but not build for Playoffs. Doc shouldn’t play him.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      I want him BENCHED. Sick of his BS. We don’t need him forcing up crappy looks inside when we have Kawhi and PG. Wasted possessions.

      • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

        They seriously don’t need him at all in the Playoffs. His scoring was a bit helpful when they didn’t have Kawhi or/and George due to injuries. But it’s not like they gonna losing 20pts without him. They can share the ball and space the floor and shooters like Sham or Patterson can easily get into the rhythm instead of watching Trez go stupid coast-to-coast or post-ups and waste many possessions.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    I am so fucking furious with Doc. HE is the reason why the Clippers continually choke away playoff series, This could have and SHOULD have been over in 5 games but Doc decides the ride Trez until out 16 point lead is a 5 point deficit. Then when our strating lineup chisels the Denver 8 point lead back down to 2 and have all the momentum with Kawhi on roll he INEXPLICABLY subs out Bev and replaces him with an ice cold shooting Lou who promptly jacks up a missed 3 (WHY DO WE WANT LOU SHOOTING INSTEAD OF KAWHI???????????), and then we give up a 3 on the other end to effectively ice the game.

    Fuck Doc and all his bullshit decisions.

    So disgusted beyond belief. Now we gave Denver hope and momentum and set ourselves up for another crushing playoff collapse ala Lob City. Doc is the one common denominator is all this.

    Even if we somehow manage to pull this series off which I now doubt the Lakers will have a massive rest advantage over us because THEY have a smart coach who takes care of business.

    Thanks for ruining my weekend Doc and Clippers! 🙁

    • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

      Doc chose to make Trez/Lou happy instead of trying to win. It’s always been like that since regular-season.

      • Avatar wwshep says:

        Yep. So damn depressing. Why do I punish myself buy rooting for a team coached by Doc. That’s a sure recipe for nothing but heartbreak and frustration.

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    Play Zu/JaMychal. If they didn’t play well, then play Noah or Petterson. You can’t play a center who can’t play D and doesn’t know how to play D. It’s the Playoffs. Every possessions matter. You shouldn’t give up so many offensive possessions for inefficient Trez. You shouldn’t let Trez play and give up a bunch of easy points on the defensive end.

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Was I bad in my previous life? Am I not allowed to be happy this lifetime? Please…. for once, get us out of this pattern!!!

  • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

    I take back everything I said about Trez, all the nice things.

    • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

      Seriously, people who have defended Trez need to watch games. And watch his poor decision makings on offensive end and horrible defense.
      If you actually tried to watch a game, not stat sheed or Youtube highlights, you can easily understand how bad he is. I’m glad you realized that.

  • Avatar Based Freestyle says:

    Doc, Trez and Lou all need to be gone next season after we lose this series (and let’s be honest, it’s over). If they’re all still here, then we’ll know this franchise doesn’t really give a shit about winning.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      Spot on.

    • Avatar Dan Dickau says:

      Bruh, it’s 3-2 we are up. We win next game. Doc does need to limit Trezz minutes for sure. Stop the whining Clipper fans. We got this.

      • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

        If Doc gonna “limit” Trez minutes… they will lose this series. Doc SHOULDN’T play Trez. They’ve been losing, getting outscored by Nuggets whenever Trez is on the floor.

    • Avatar ajk777 says:

      Doc and Trez, I agree with. But Lou, not so much. At least he contributes, has made a positive difference, and is a good enough bench player. Whenever Trez is on the floor, our production goes down and he provides nothing of value. I was for keeping Trez before, but watching these playoffs have changed my mind on him.

  • Avatar Dan Dickau says:

    Honestly, we got this in 6. Book it.