They’ve only gone and done it again.
After another game seven victory with more heart than Phar Lap, the Denver Nuggets eliminated the woefully inaccurate Clippers and will return to the Western Conference Finals for the first since 2009.
After being written off, doubted and discredited on countless occasions, the Nuggets, led by their odd couple offense in Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray, didn’t just win today’s game seven, they absolutely blew Kawhi and co off the court.
The final score of 104-89 was thanks in large part to Murray’s 40 point performance. Having come into the game under an injury cloud, the Canadian finished the blowout win shooting 6 of 13 from beyond the arc, including this fourth quarter dagger to elicit a famous Mike Breen ‘BANG’.
BANG. JAMAL MURRAY DAGGER. pic.twitter.com/nS5iTh4YyL
— ESPN (@espn) September 16, 2020
The seven-foot Serbian Jokić aided his partner in crime with 16 points, 13 assists and 22 rebounds.
The Joker’s one footed floaters didn’t just have our minds thinking back to Dirk Nowitski, they had the tragic Clippers heading home with their fan’s heads in their hands.
Nikola Jokic (16 PTS, 22 REB, 13 AST) becomes the first player in NBA playoff history to record a 20+ rebound triple-double in a Game 7!@nuggets advance to the Western Conference Finals vs. LAL starting Friday at 9pm/et on TNT. pic.twitter.com/rU5Vazyf2Z
— NBA (@NBA) September 16, 2020
Lesser lights Gary Harris and Jerami Grant also chipped in with a combined 28 points.
We all should have known better than to write off this dogged Denver outfit when the series was stacked against them at 3-1. In a position where other teams would have broken the panic button, the plucky Nuggets just kept chipping away at the Clippers commanding lead until it evaporated like Paul George’s aim.
It’s not like the seven game series against Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz taught us anything, right?
Twice now the Nuggets have overcome 3-1 series deficits. Twice now they have silenced the critics. In the words of star guard Murray:
“All y’all better start giving this team some damn respect.”
"All y'all better start giving this team some damn respect."
Jamal Murray calls out the media after Game 7. pic.twitter.com/GqOuFfJwYU
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 16, 2020
With the victor gaining regard, the opposite must be applied to the vanquished.
The Los Angeles Clippers entered this season as almost every pundits favourite to take out the ‘chip’. These predictions came on the back of the franchise selling the farm to add Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to their roster in the pre-season.
With the series on the line and the familiar failing feeling beginning to arrive for perpetually tortured Clippers fanbase, the pair fired blanks when only a kill would suffice.
The high-priced imports combined for a lousy total of just 24 points from a deplorable 10 for 38 shooting.
It may be too soon to suggest that Clippers owner Steve Balmer is scrambling to find the duos receipts, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he isn’t replicating his pre-season excitement.
Who knows whether this Denver playoff run will end with a trophy or not, but a series of moral victories have been made by this youthful team.
It has often been suggested that the Nuggets are a team for the future, but guess what, the future just arrived.
The Nuggets have also been called a small market team, but should the Canadian and Serbian continue to drag their team deeper into the playoffs, you can be sure that the interest of free agents the league wide has been piqued.
After allowing reality sink in and their impossibly large feet to hit the ground, Denver will progress to face the much-vaunted Los Angeles Lakers in the Western finals.
Despite being stacked with talent including the evergreen LeBron James and the spider like big man Anthony Davis, the Lakers have been warned - don’t even think about going 3-1 up against these Nuggets.