After coming away with game 3 to secure a 2-1 lead in the series, the LA Clippers will look to take a commanding lead against the Denver Nuggets in game 4.
Where: The Bubble (Orlando, Florida)
When: Wednesday, September 9th @ 6:00PM PT
How to Watch: ESPN
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
Nuggets (Home) : Gary Harris — Jamal Murray — Jerami Grant — Paul Milsap — Nikola Jokić
Clippers (Away): Patrick Beverley — Paul George — Kawhi Leonard — Marcus Morris Sr. — Ivica Zubac
Nuggets: Will Barton Out (Knee), Vlatko Cancar Out (Foot)
THE BIG PICTURE
The Los Angeles Clippers lead the Western Conference Semifinals 2-1 after a nail-biting 113-107 game 3 victory over the Denver Nuggets Monday night. The Nuggets look to even up the series on Wednesday. The Clippers hope to end the night one game closer to a trip to the Western Conference Finals.
The Nuggets are a talented team, led by ridiculously skilled offensive juggernaut Nikola Jokić. In Game 3, Jokić had a near triple-double, putting up 32 points, snatching 12 boards and dishing out eight dimes against Los Angeles. The Joker was equally effective in the paint and from behind the line, seemingly scoring at will. The stellar performance was not enough to prevent the Denver loss, however, as the Nuggets’ supporting cast failed to produce, particularly in the closing frame. Jamal Murray (5 of 17) and Jerami Grant (5 of 14) struggled from the field all night, and Gary Harris and Michael Porter Jr. failed to connect meaningfully down the stretch.
The Nuggets also had twelve turnovers in the match-up, contributing to the loss, with Jokić contributing seven.
KEYS TO A GAME 4 VICTORY
- Win the Transition Game (Again)
The Clippers would have lost Game 3 had they not tightened the screws on defense and created opportunities for points in transition. Los Angeles outscored Denver 30 to 12 in fast break points; exploiting the Nuggets’ missed shots and turnovers. Nineteen of those points were logged in the second half, pushing the Clippers to victory.
- Keep Attacking the Rim
In Game 3 the Clippers were much more aggressive in attacking the basket and generating trips to the free throw line. Los Angeles converted 20 of their 26 trips to the line, compared to Denver’s 8 of 10, for a 12-point advantage.
- Reduce Turnovers
On the not-so-great stat line, the Clippers committed 17 turnovers in Game 3, with many occurring on fumbled passes in the paint between guys in very close proximity. Look for the over-passing in the lane to be remedied in Game 4.
- Contain Jokić
The Clippers do not really have an answer for Jokić. Fan favorite Ivica Zubac hasn’t had great success in that matchup, he’s been too slow to effectively close out on 3-point attempts and despite his best efforts, just gets bullied and worked over on the block. (Not to mention, Zu has not yet found a way to avoid falling prey to Jokić’s sketchy arm hook and flail combo.) Recently crowned Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green have also struggled with containing the much bigger Jokić.
213Hoops editor Lucas Hann took a look at where the Clippers were and weren’t successful defending Jokic in the pick-and-pop in game 3 in a new film room article.
The Clippers did, however, have success slowing Jokić with effective double teams at the end of both halves. Credit Lou Williams with working his ass off. Sweet Lou had two key steals during the Clippers 12-2 run to close the first half and was part of the stifling team defense that held Jokić to four points in the fourth quarter.
If the Clippers can sustain that kind of defensive intensity for 48 minutes, it will be a problem for the Joker and Denver.
- Neutralize Murray
The Clippers were very effective in neutralizing the Nuggets second star, Jamal Murray in Game 3. The squad’s depth came in handy in disposing of Murray; they were able to throw multiple defenders at him, including newly minted All NBA Defensive Team members Pat Beverley and Kawhi Leonard. (Congratulations, fellas!)
Murray struggled significantly against the Clippers’ half-court defense throughout the game, and ended the night with just 14 points on 5 of 17 shooting. He did, however, star in this fantastic game highlight….
It is a must-win game for Denver, but the Basketball Gods are with LA. Clippers by 8.