The two-seed Los Angeles Clippers and the three-seed Denver Nuggets get back to action Monday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference playoff semifinals. The Clippers took Game 1, 120-97 before the Nuggets bounced back to capture Game 2, 110-101.
Tipoff for Game 3 of the seven-game series is set for 9 p.m. EST inside ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla. The contest can be seen nationally on TNT. Los Angeles is a -7.5 point favorite to bounce back and take control of the series.
What to Know – Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles made easy work of the Nuggets in the opener, building a double-digit halftime lead after outscoring the Nuggets by 18 in the second quarter. The rolls were reversed in Game 2, with Denver going wire-to-wire to upset the Clippers after LA dug themselves a 20-point hole early on in the game.
In Game 2, the Clippers were led by Paul George, who scored 22 points on 7-for-19 shooting from the floor. George added eight rebounds and three assists. Ivica Zubac chipped in 15 points, shooting a slick 6-for-8 from the field. Kawhi Leonard shot the ball poorly, hitting just four of his 17 shots for 13 points.
The Clippers didn’t shoot terribly from short-range, finishing 40.9 percent (36-for-88) from the floor but just 28.1 percent (9-for-32) from the 3-point line. Los Angeles turned the ball over 17 times, including four from both George and Leonard.
What to Know – Denver Nuggets
Denver looked like a different ball club on Saturday, building a 14-2 lead to start the game and finishing with a 19-point lead (44-25) at the end of the first quarter. The Nuggets said they were tired in Game 1 that led to a sloppy performance, but the physical play from the start in Game 2 provided a different type of energy for the Nuggets.
Jamal Murray poured in a game-high 27 points, going 10-for-21 shooting and dishing a team-high six assists. Nikola Jokic added 26 points (10-for-17) and hauled in 18 rebounds. Paul Millsap and Gary Harris each added 13 points apiece.
The Nuggets shot 45.1 percent (41-for-91) from the floor along with 37.5 percent (15-for-40) from beyond the arc. Denver turned the ball over 12 times and added nine steals and seven blocked shots. Denver led 72-56 at the half, the 16-point margin was the third-largest halftime deficit for the Clippers this season.
The Pick is In
Denver came out in Game 2 and punched the Clippers in the mouth, but the Clippers never backed down and out-scored the Nuggets over the next three quarters, cutting the lead to as low as five in the fourth quarter, to make the game respectable.
The Clippers should come out more focused in Game 3, but the Nuggets continue to demonstrate the offensive firepower to battle with the league’s top teams. The Nuggets may not win, but this game should be close. Take the Nuggets +7.5 in Game 3.