Eleanor Sheahan – 23 Sports

The Denver Nuggets made history Tuesday night, coming back after another 3-1 deficit to beat the Clippers in Game Seven! Denver is now the only team in a single NBA playoffs to have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in back to back series and win Game Seven.

After being down three games to one against the Utah Jazz, the Nuggets won Game Seven and advanced to play the Los Angeles Clippers in the West Semifinals. The Clippers had just beat the Dallas Mavericks in a six-game series. The West Semifinals started on Thursday, Sept. 3rd as the Denver Nuggets battled the Los Angeles Clippers, but Game One was not so much of a battle. 

The Clippers and the Nuggets were tied 31-31 at the end of the first period. Game One stayed mostly neck-and-neck up until the Clippers took a 15-point lead with three minutes left in the half. The Nuggets trailed the Clippers 51-69 at halftime. With the help of No. 2 Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers continued to drain outside shots, leading by 91-67 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Nuggets never got within 10 points of the Clippers during the entire second half. Leonard dominated this game by scoring a total of 29 points! The Clippers absolutely blew out the Nuggets in Game One with the final score of 120-97 in favor of Los Angeles. 

The  Nuggets showed up to Game Two looking way stronger compared to Game One. Clippers’  Paul George led his team with 22 points. But both the Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic played exceptionally. Murray scored 27 points while Jokic had a double-double game with 26 points and 18 rebounds, these outstanding performances led the Nuggets to victory. The final score was Denver 110, over Los Angeles, 101, to make the series tied 1-1 heading into Game Three. 

The Nuggets and Clippers battled a close back-and-forth game. Nuggets’ Jokic scored 32 points, but it was not enough to beat the Clippers’ dynamic duo of George and Leonard, who took over the offense in Game Three. George scored 32 points alongside his teammate Kawhi Leonard who scored 23 of his own. These two powerhouses created an unstoppable Clippers offense. The Clippers won a competitive Game Three by only six points, with a final score of 113-107 over the Nuggets. Los Angeles won back-to-back games to make the series 2-1 over Denver. 

Game Four was a clean-cut by the Clippers. Los Angeles shut down the Nuggets offense and forced them to make 17 turnovers. Leonard dominated Game Four with just one assist away from a triple-double. Leonard ended the game with nine assists, 11 rebounds, and 30 points. Los Angeles took Game Four over Denver with the final score of 96-85, making the series 3-1. The Denver Nuggets had a long way to go and the pressure was on them heading into Game Five. 

Starting with Game Five on Friday, the Nuggets were going to have to win three games in a row in order for them to advance to the Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets were in elimination jeopardy and the pressure was on. Just like in Game Four, Leonard scored an insane number of points. With a total of 36 points for Leonard, it’s hard to believe the Clippers lost this game.

Los Angeles controlled the beginning of the game with Denver losing 56-44 at halftime. The Clippers had a 15-point lead over the Nuggets with 8:40 to go in the third. The Nuggets power forward Paul Millsap scored 14 points in the third quarter, bringing Denver back into this game. Down by seven with 10 minutes to go in the game, Murray dropped a huge three-pointer to make it a four-point game. The big man Jokic dropped an even bigger three-pointer and Denver took the lead. Another three-pointer from Murray and one from Mizzou’s own Michael Porter Jr helped secure Denver’s win 111-105 over Los Angeles. Denver came back from a 15-point deficit to survive another game By winning Game Five The Denver Nuggets shifted the momentum for the whole series and drove full speed ahead into Game Six. 

It was simple, either the Nuggets would win or they would go home. On Sunday, Sept. 13th the Nuggets were losing to the Clippers 63-47 going into the second half of Game Six. Another elimination game for Denver, their season was on the line. With 10 minutes left in the third quarter, the Clippers extended their lead by a whopping 19 points. Nuggets’ Murray drove hard to the basket, but Clippers’ George blocked his shot and landed on top of Murray. Murray was slow to get up, but he did continue to play the rest of the game. 

Later in the third quarter, the Clippers fell into a drought with no field goals in four minutes! With the leadership of Jamal Murray, the Nuggets got back into the fight. The Nuggets battled back with a nearly perfect offense and with 3:30 left in the third, the Nuggets trailed the Clippers only by one point. The Nuggets outperformed the Clippers in the third quarter scoring 30 points compared to the Clippers’ 16. 

By the start of the fourth quarter, the Clippers were only ahead by two points. With 11 minutes to go, the game was tied at 79 a piece. Denver took the lead thanks to a huge three-pointer from Torrey Craig to make it 82-79 Nuggets. The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle, with multiple lead changes for both teams, a competitive nail biter. With less than five minutes to go the Nuggets pull ahead to establish a 10-point lead! After being behind by 19 points, Denver battled back in this game during the third and fourth quarters. Denver’s huge comeback helped them beat Los Angeles 111-98 and force a Game Seven. 

It all came down to Game Seven. The series was tied at 3-3 with Denver setting out to make an extraordinary comeback from a 3-1 deficit, but the job was not done yet. Throughout most of the game, the Clippers doubled teamed Jokic on the Nuggets. This created a lot of scoring opportunities for other players like Gary Harris and Murray. Murray scored 25 points in the first half. Jokic played extremely patient and controlled with two men guarding him most of the game and he collected 22 rebounds.

The Nuggets trailed by two points at halftime with a score of 54-56. Denver had too many turnovers in the first half and most of their three-point shots were not going in. Denver needed to clean up their game if they wanted to pull ahead of the Clippers. That is exactly what they did. Denver utilized their strength inside the key. The pick and roll was the name of the game for the Denver offense and as the game went on there three-pointers began to fall in. Murray dominated the long-distance three-pointers and quick fadeaway shots from inside the key to make him by far the best player in yesterday’s game. 

Denver took the lead, 62-61, with 8:55 left in the third quarter. Denver was down seven points earlier in the third period and came back to not only take the lead but go up by seven, making a 14-point difference throughout the third. At the start of the fourth quarter, in Game Seven, Denver led 82-74 over Los Angeles. As time ticked off the clock, Denver continued to grow a significant lead over Los Angeles. With just 2:10 left in Game Seven, Denver goes up 20 points with a score of 100-80. Unable to generate an offense the Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets in Game Seven of the Western Semifinals. The final score was Nuggets 104, Clippers 89. 

Murray had the game of his life, 40 points scored from the 23-year-old. The top two players on the Los Angeles Clippers, Leonard and George, together scored a total of 24 points. Murray outscored both of them combined. Jokic also scored 16 points, 13 assists, and 22 rebounds. The Nuggets outperformed the Clippers by a landslide.

This series led to a shocking upset. The Denver Nuggets eliminated the heavily favored Los Angeles Clippers in a seven-game series. This marks another loss for the Clippers, making them 0-8 all-time with a chance to clinch a berth for the conference finals. The Nuggets will go down in history as the only to have ever won back to back series after being down three games to one in a single postseason. 

On Friday, the Nuggets will return to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years. The Nuggets will face Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game One tipoff is 8:00pm. Only the Nuggets, Lakers, Celtics and the Heat remain in the 2020 NBA playoffs.

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