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.

GAME INFORMATION

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 

INJURIES

Nuggets:  Will Barton Out (Knee), Vlatko Cancar Out (Foot)

Clippers:  None  

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 ANTAGONIST

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….

PREDICTION

It is a must-win game for Denver, but the Basketball Gods are with LA. Clippers by 8.

37 Comments

  • Avatar Minion94 says:

    Hope Green is okay,

  • Darius Miles Forever Darius Miles Forever says:

    ●Noah Scrimmages Highlights
    https://streamable.com/x56bi0

    ●Noah 2018-19 defensive highlights
    https://streamable.com/rkr8uv

    I’m not a fan of having too many bigs on the active roster but …. I feel like Noah’s box-out, rebounding, defense, passing and hard screen could be much more helpful to the team than any Trezz minutes. And it’s not like they should play Noah for 30 minutes. Even 5-10 minutes from Noah would be helpful. If only Noah was there to boxout opponents, it would be a huge upgrade from Trez because Trez doesn’t do anything.

    Trez is a hard worker, plays hard and loves basketball but he simply doesn’t know how to play defense, how to help his team beside scoring. He’s moslty effective against bench bigs or G-leaguers when they’re up by 20 or 30. Just a high-energy guy. And low-BBIQ player is unplayable in the Playoffs where every possession matters. You have Kawhi, George, Morris, Lou, JaMychal or even Shamet on the floor. Why tf do they have to waste a bunch of possessions just to let Trez go stupid & inefficient coast to coast or post-ups?

    They need DEFENSE! JaMychal should play over Trez. Patterson or even Noah should play over Trez. They should play this season to win championship, not to make Trez happy.

    • Avatar Minion94 says:

      Okay Trez has been terrible but we all know this will never happen.

    • Avatar Minion94 says:

      Noah won’t see the court unless Any of Green/Zu/Trez gets hurt

      • Avatar 8sp0rts8 says:

        8 pt win seems optimistic. We’ve all seen how up & down, on/off the Clippers have been all year and even in the Mavs series. They gave us hope after closing out games 5 & 6 against Dallas and then handling their business in game 1.

        But in game 2, instead of putting the foot down on Denver’s throat, they came out flat and with no urgency. A repeat of game 4 against Dallas seems more likely. This team just doesn’t get up or play hard unless it absolutely has to. Or unless they’re playing the Lakers.

        If they make it to the Finals and match up with Miami, they may very well lose as Miami brings it every night.

        • Avatar sjake says:

          Yeah, this game will be telling. You can’t control if your shots are going in, but you can control effort on defense and to a certain extent shot selection. Hoping they come out flying on D and valuing every offensive possession. If they do, they should beat Denver.

    • Avatar Jonathan Eng says:

      I’d say defense is 80% effort. From the highlights I rewatched, Trez just does not put in the effort. Any good player that can put in the effort will box out as soon as the shot goes up. Trez just ball watches. You can ball watch AND box out. He also doesn’t do a good job of closing out as he stays in no-man’s land on the drop coverage. Trez is more a high energy player on offense and picks up his energy when he draws a charge. When he is not drawing charges, he’s not doing much else.

    • Josh Josh says:

      I was a bit disappointed in Beverley in last game. Yeah his rebounding for a point guard is off the charts and he got a clutch rebound at the end of the fourth, but he CANT SHOOT! I was really frustrated. THE Nuggets didn’t even guard Beverley when he was beyond the arc. He missed a few thee pointers. His efficiency on and off the court is excellent apart from the shooting. The Clippers need Beverley to START making his threes. Especially when Beverley gets so many possessions as well. Not every team is perfect but i would love it if Beverley can up his shooting.

  • Avatar hadouken says:

    Clippers’ A game >> Denver’s A game.

    It boils down to whether LAC can bring the focus and intensity we saw in sporadically in these playoffs.

  • Jacques-Yves Cousteau Jacques-Yves Cousteau says:

    Let’s go LAC!
    Hopefully Zu and JaMG avoid early foul trouble.

  • Avatar 8sp0rts8 says:

    8 pt win seems optimistic. We’ve all seen how up & down, on/off the Clippers have been all year and even in the Mavs series. They gave us hope after closing out games 5 & 6 against Dallas and then handling their business in game 1.

    But in game 2, instead of putting the foot down on Denver’s throat, they came out flat and with no urgency. A repeat of game 4 against Dallas seems more likely. This team just doesn’t get up or play hard unless it absolutely has to. Or unless they’re playing the Lakers.

    If they make it to the Finals and match up with Miami, they may very well lose as Miami brings it every night

    • Avatar hadouken says:

      On/off Clippers. Seems to be the story all year long. Really odd for a team that prides on being “dogs”.

  • Josh Josh says:

    In game 3 I saw that Lou Williams was uncomfortable with his wrist. I think he hit it while falling after his drive. Anyone know if he’s alright?

  • Avatar lobc1t1 says:

    Let’s send in Ron Harper, Doc Rivers, and Danny Manning this time. Should be easy!

  • Avatar John Maclean says:

    I’ll be happy to win by any means necessary but we really need to see this team deliver a resounding “send-the-message” victory sooner than later. The Lakers are peaking right now and based upon what they’ve shown I’m not confident we can beat them yet. Tonight is a game that Kawhi especially knows is a BIG one so let’s see if the Terminator doesn’t show up. If so and PG can repeat game 3 magic we could deliver on that knockout blow.

    • Lucas Hann Lucas Hann says:

      The Lakers are peaking? Doesn’t look like it to me. Looks like they’re barely surviving the Rockets based on Russ being a poor decision-maker and unsustainable shooting from role players. Their 2-1 could just as easily be 1-2 as ours could.

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    I just discovered the rail view on the ESPN app. No annoying Reggie Miller and great sideline view.

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    Was watching the 2OT thriller between Toronto and Boston and so pleased to see that the Clippers clamped down on defense in the first quarter. Only 12 point allowed, holy moly.

  • Avatar TheGreatestShowman says:

    Doc solid rotation so far. Sham early for Bev and then bring him back along with PG next to Lou/Trez.

    • Avatar wwshep says:

      I liked the Bev with the bench and Shamet with the starters twist, I think it contributed to lack of defensive lapses tonight.

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

    The 3-OT game screwed this up for me. Missed the entire first quarter. ESPN has to do better.

  • Avatar Eric Ho says:

    MPJ is lighting us up.

  • Avatar Jonee says:

    Well, I wish they hadn’t let them back in it, but I guess I’ll take an 7 point lead at the half. They need to come out like they did in the 1st. Starting slacking on defense in the 2nd.

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

    Go Kawhi and Kawhi’s mom in the audience.

  • Avatar wwshep says:

    Great win Clips!… One more to go to make franchise history. Let’s close this one out Friday on our “home court”.

    A few takeways:

    1) D-FENCE! Clippers D was fantastic. Holding a team with the firepower of Denver to 85 is amazing! They FINALLY started the game locked in and stayed that way the entire way. Kudos! Now that we know we can do it let’s stay locked in the rest of the way.

    2) 3 point shooting. The Clippers playoff woes from the 3 point line continue with 28.6% tonight from 3 tonight. So many wide open 3’s missed this could have been a blowout if Clips were able to knock those down. Again hoping the mean reversion is coming soon.

    3) Trez is still… bad. In a game the Clippers won by 11, Trez was a -1 net rating and was the only Clipper with a negative net rating. And even with a big lead late Doc had to bring Zu back in as the lead was slip sliding away with Trez in. He scored a few points but the team is just so much better when Zu on on the court and a dramatic drop off on both ends occurs whenever Trez is in the game.

    4) Scott Foster was in full Fostering mode. He got PG13 in foul trouble early which contributed to the Clipper offensive woes. And just generally was quick to whistle Clippers for ticky tack and phantom fouls, but could barely bring himself to blow the whistle when Kawhi got clobbered.

    5) Kawhi was back to full Terminator mode. With PG13 on the bench early and often with foul trouble Kawhi took the team on his back and took over the game on both ends. We are truly blessed to have the greatest player in the NBA as a Clipper.

    Let’s Go Clips!

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

      Nice summary Shep. Great defensive effort, hope it continues. I actually thought Trez was pretty good this game but didn’t see all of it. How about that Kawhi guy?

    • Avatar michelle uzeta says:

      Harrell was good tonight – give him some love. Better on defense and a problem in the paint (where Clips had the only large advantage tonight).

      On the 3 point shooting, it, like regular shooting, was ass tonight. However, interesting stat line – one of the 3-pointers in the 3rd quarter (I think Shamets?) broke the Clippers record for most 3-pointers in a post season.

      Kawhi broke a few franchise records tonight as well – they are noted in my recap. Once it posts take a look.

      • Avatar wwshep says:

        I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say Trez was good in the game. Did we see some improvement from recent games? Yes, but that’s not saying much. He did a little better job on offense and finishing at the rim, so certainly some progress there and we’ll take it. And he didn’t get murdered on the glass, so an improvement there. Although one infuriating play sticks in my mind where he was lazily ball watching versus boxing out and gave up an offensive rebound by Jamal Murray as a result. Also, some lazy defense a jogging back upcourt early, but he amped up his hustle later in the game. And the missed free throws are a major issue for Trez as well.

        And surely everyone here remembers the late scare we got as the 19 point 4th quarter lead shrunk to just 8 with Trez on the court and it took Zu coming back in to quickly restore order and secure the win.

        Look I’d love to cut him some slack, but fact remains that he clearly hasn’t been “good” in the playoffs. Being the only Clipper with a negative net rating last night (outside of Mann and RJax due to the last garbage time Denver basket they came in for) in a game won by 11 is just another indication of that, and as Bev says, “numbers don’t lie”.

        I’m heartened somewhat by the fact that Doc seems to be aware of this and taking the right actions. I think he’s trying to get Trez confidence back and really wanted to let him close the game out for that reason, but thankfully was practical enough to realize he had to pull the plug before it was too late. I guess all we can hope for at this point is that Doc continues to do the right thing and pull Trez in a timely manner when he is jeopardizing our chances to win, and in the meantime hope that Trez can also continue to clean up some of the fixable issues in his game. Because as Mark Jackson is wont to say, we need him to “be better” if we want to win a chip.

  • Avatar Thretch says:

    The Boston-Toronto game was awesome … until a soccer game broke out. What a flopfest. I don’t dislike the Celtics or Marcus Smart, but what’s with that guy? I know plenty of guys do it; but what’s the mind set? Are they really always prepared to throw themselves backwards at the merest touch? I got to give him credit for being able to react so fast and fling himself backwards.