By Christian Easter
The Denver Nuggets pulled off an extremely unexpected upset after beating the Clippers in the quarterfinals of the Western Conference. Denver was thought to be out of the competition after falling behind three to one to the Clippers following their game four defeat. However, they won the next two games to book the do-or-die game seven.
Amazingly, they showed up once again and shocked the Clips, mainly because of their team leaders, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Jokic finished game seven with a triple double of 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists, while Murray led all scorers with 40 points on top of four boards and five dimes. It didn’t help the Clippers that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, two all stars, didn’t show up to help their team in the most crucial game of the playoffs. The two combined for just 10 made field goals on 38 attempts and scored just 24 points.
For the first time ever, the Nuggets have overcome not one but two three-to-one deficits, and what’s even more crazy is the fact they did it in a back to back series. First, the Nuggets came back in the first round against the Utah Jazz, then they did it again against the Clippers in the conference semifinals. On top of this, the way they did it was shocking: the Nuggets trailed by 16 points in game five, 19 points in game six and by 12 points in game seven. Yet they overcame their opponents and ended up winning all three games.
In game seven, Murray scored 40 points while shooting 15 of 26 from the field, and hit a three over the outstretched arms of Kawhi Leonard late in the fourth quarter to push the Nuggets’ lead to 18.
And then there was Jokic, a center who pirouettes with the ball. He had 16 points, 13 assists and 22 rebounds, toying with the Clippers throughout. If they threw multiple defenders at him, he was throwing dimes to cutting teammates for dunks. If the Clippers played off him, he flicked high-arcing jumpers.
The Nuggets were eventually knocked out of the playoffs, losing to the LA Lakers in the conference finals by a 4-1 deficit. Nuggets fans can hope for some good trades this upcoming season and maybe even first, second or third round picks in the draft to increase their likelihood of building a powerhouse team. The Denver Nuggets showed a lot of heart and were the underdogs during the majority of the playoffs. They are a young team that has shown incredible courage and growth, and with good coaching it appears that they have a chance to make it back to the playoffs next year.