LA Clippers: Potential matchups for new-look NBA playoffs

LA Clippers (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
LA Clippers (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /
3 of 6
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

If the NBA decides to shorten the playoffs by reducing to the number of teams to eight, with the top four seeds from each conference making the cut, the Clippers would face the Denver Nuggets in the opening round.

The Nuggets are currently in third place in the Western Conference with a record of 43-22. The team is lead by do-it-all center Nikola Jokic and their slow-paced, pass-happy, team-centric brand of basketball is a perfect match for their young All-Star.

The teams have split their two matchups so far this season, with Denver taking at 114-104 victory at home on January 12, and the Clippers getting revenge with a 132-103 win in Los Angeles on February 28.

In both contests, the Nuggets were able to keep the pace more in line with their 97.2 rate (ranked the 29th slowest in the NBA). The Clippers lost their first matchup, played at a sluggish 96.4 pace but were able to cruise to victory in an even more slowed down second match-up (pace of 95.4).

The difference? Paul George.

The Clippers’ superstar was missing from the first matchup between the teams and his absence was definitely felt. Without his presence on defense, the Nuggets were able to shoot 11-25 (44 percent) from three point range, well above their season average of 35.8 percent. The Clippers weren’t able to match from beyond, going cold shooting 8-33 (24.2 percent), far below their season mark of 36.6 percent.

With their team at full strength in their second matchup, the Clippers were able to be much more efficient on offense, shooting 18-39 (42.2 percent) from deep and a scorching 48-89 (53.9 percent) total. George contributed 24 points going 6-8 from beyond the arc himself.

The Nuggets are a tough matchup for any team, as they are able to control the pace by playing their deliberate brand of half court basketball. But at full strength, the Clippers have the defensive versatility and the offensive efficiency to take care of business over the course of a full series.