Los Angeles Clippers (2) vs Denver Nuggets (3)
I just realised that I forgot to do a second round preview of this matchup! Fortunately, it’s a pretty easy matchup to predict and I don’t have a lot of talking points. The first game tips off in about 3 hours. Just enough time to have a read and get your bets in.
I will be very surprised in the Nuggets can even take a single game here. They are just outmatched in about every way imaginable. Sure, they are coming off of a fantastic comeback against the Jazz in their last series, but this is a completely different team they are coming against. The Clippers have multiple offensive options, not just one and they will come at the Nuggets defensively. None of this weak Utah defense. The Clippers are going to out shoot, out play and out work this Nuggets team.
Jamal Murray won a lot of people over (myself included) with his incredible performances against Utah. I think it’s fair to say that without him. Denver stood no chance. They might have to find out how they perform without him, because the Clippers will be coming at him hard. I imagine Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley will spend most of their time guarding Murray. He is going to have to work very hard to score. I don’t think you’ll see any more 40 point games from Murray until next season. Murray is going to have to play smart and try and get other guys involved. I’m sure he will, I just don’t have a lot of confidence in those guys stepping up right now.
If Denver have any chance, it’s going to have to come from Jokic. He will need to be play with a lot more consistent effort than he has shown. He will need to be crashing the glass, contesting shots, scoring 25+ and around 5 assists a night. He is really going to have to step up in a big way and will have to do it from everywhere. Jokic will need to continue to shoot the 3 effectively and make smart decisions with the basketball. However, even if he does all that, I honestly can’t see it making a difference.
After their first round series against the Mavericks, I believe the Clippers are more engaged and more focused. Dallas reminded them that they can’t just come into a game, play without effort and still expect to pick up a win. They will need to come out, play a full 48 minutes (maybe 36 against Denver) and remain engaged on both ends. I’m sure they are well aware of how important Murray is and will do all in their power to limit him. As I mentioned, I think Leonard will be one of the primary defenders on Murray. Leonard was easily the best player in the first round for L.A. I’m curious to see if he can keep his offensive efficiency up and manage to guard Denver’s best player. I am certain that even if he keeps Murray limited that Murray is going to make him work hard on the defensive end.
With Leonard working so hard defensively, Paul George will be the primary option on the other end. After a shaky start, George settled in and strung together a couple of decent games. He will need this to continue and against an inconsistent Nuggets defense, I’m sure it will. I’m expecting big numbers from PG13 in this series.
For me, it’s the Clippers in 4. I cannot see Denver putting up too much of a fight or even being in any of these games in the fourth. L.A. are going to be engaged from the start and will be looking to put them away early. I think your best bet would be to take the Clippers for the sweep. If you want some prop bets, PG’s over/under is set at 23.5 points. He should be scoring around 30 a game. Leonard’s is set at 31.5, I’d be leaning towards the under but maybe wait a game or two to see. Perhaps a Leonard double/double would be a safer bet.
On the other side, Jokic has his PRA set at 42.5. Like I said, if Denver have any chance, he is going to have to clear that. I don’t like betting on inconsistent teams and players though, so I won’t be touching it. I was hoping Murray’s point line would be around 30, but it’s only been set at 24.5. Again, I’m leaning towards the under, but maybe wait a game or two to see how it pans out.