The Clippers were in total command of Game 1 of their second-round series against the Nuggets, preying on Denver’s rest disadvantage and turning to Kawhi Leonard early and often to comfortably take the opener.
That made it all the more surprising when the second game began in the complete opposite fashion. The Nuggets had all the energy, their stars were at the top of their game, and they put the Clippers on their heels, forcing them to play catch up for the final three quarters after building a 19-point lead in the opening period. The Clippers made a game of it, but they didn’t have quite enough to make up for their early mistakes.
After the loss, I reached out to Ryan Blackburn of Denver Stiffs (who also helped us preview the series) to discuss how Denver turned the tide of the series. It was really useful to get an opposing perspective on a confusing effort from the Clippers.
We began by going deep on the Nuggets’ defensive adjustments, specifically as they related to Leonard, and what the Clippers can do to counter moving forward that they weren’t able to in Game 2. We also spent some time talking about the Clippers defense and how it failed against Denver early.
We then moved on to the bench matchups and focused in on the contributions of Lou Williams and Michael Porter Jr. We closed with a lengthy discussion of the Clippers small lineup and what the best strategies are for defending Nikola Jokic.