A look at the Nuggets vs. Jazz series with an LA Clippers interest.
The Utah Jazz evened their opening-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets with a 124-105 decisive victory earlier today. Should the LA Clippers advance past their opening-round matchup against the Dallas Mavericks they will face the winner of the Jazz Nuggets series in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
The Jazz were able to avenge a game one loss to the Nuggets by turning up the heat on defense, forcing 12 turnovers and holding Denver to 45 percent shooting from the floor. Utah controlled most of the game after taking a 44-42 lead on a Donovan Mitchell alley-oop from Royce O’Neale midway through the second quarter. The Jazz would not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game.
Mitchell paced the Jazz once again with 30 points making ten of 14 shots from the floor. He added eight assists to help lead the team to victory.
The Nuggets were paced by center Nikola Jokic and rookie wing Michael Porter Jr., each notching 28 points. Game one standout Jamal Murray wasn’t able to hit a rhythm and finished the game with 14 points shooting six of 13 from the floor.
The main takeaway for the Clippers from the game was the Nuggets defense. More specifically, the lack thereof. On the season, Denver’s Defensive Rating of 111.0 ranks 16th in the NBA. Since the restart, their defense has looked porous, with a league-worst rating of 121.7.
Should both the Clippers and Nuggets advance to the second-round, LA can feel confident that they’ll be able to score on Denver at will. They should also be able to clamp down defensively to help limit Denver’s offensive attack to take control of the series.
Stopping the Jazz remains a task for the defenders asked to key on Donovan Mitchell. Utah’s offense runs through the second-year guard and ability to finish at the rim or drive-and-kick to an open shooter. Center Rudy Gobert came to life offensively in game two, scoring 19 points on seven of ten shooting from the floor, but remains a concern mostly on the defensive end of the floor.
Above all else, the Clippers’ players should continue to focus on the task at hand, which is beating the Dallas Mavericks. Let their scouts and coaching staff do their job to prepare for any potential second-round opponents for now.