Nuggets Vs Clippers NBA Playoffs: Denver Enters As Heavy Underdog

Posted on September 2, 2020 - Last Updated on October 16, 2020

The celebration phase is short-lived for the Denver Nuggets — as is the rest.

Two days after an exhausting and grueling seven-game series against the Utah Jazz, the Nuggets have to strap back up and do it all over again.

Next up is Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Needless to say, it doesn’t get any easier for the Nuggets (Thanks, John Madden.).

Nuggets vs Clippers odds

Nuggets vs Clippers series odds BetMGM DraftKings FanDuel
Series winner Nuggets +800
Clippers -1,429
Nuggets +700
Clippers -1,250
Nuggets +790
Clippers -1,500
Series correct score Nuggets 4-0 +20,000
Nuggets 4-1 +6,000
Nuggets 4-2 +3,000
Nuggets 4-3 +1,600
Clippers 4-0 +170
Clippers 4-1 +180
Clippers 4-2 +400
Clippers 4-3 +800
Nuggets 4-0 +10,000
Nuggets 4-1 +4,200
Nuggets 4-2 +2,600
Nuggets 4-3 +1,800
Clippers 4-0 +210
Clippers 4-1 +195
Clippers 4-2 +330
Clippers 4-3 +650

Once the eight teams in the Western Conference were set, it was pretty clear Denver would have to go through both Los Angeles teams on its path to a championship.

It just so happens that both the Clippers and Lakers are heavy favorites in the West and to win the NBA finals. That was true when the playoffs started and remain the case prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

As for the series, it’s no surprise that the Colorado betting apps have LA as a huge favorite. As of Thursday afternoon, that remains the case. In fact, the Nuggets became an even bigger underdog.

Keep it here for updated odds as the game gets closer.

Even less surprising is the Clippers are also a monster favorite in Game 1 for BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel. Over the last day, in fact, Denver is an even bigger underdog. Leonard and LA have had a few days off to prepare and recover, while the Nuggets haven’t had enough time to think let alone get comfortable.

Nuggets vs Clippers Game One odds BetMGM DraftKings FanDuel
Point spread Nuggets +9 -110
Clippers -9 -110
Nuggets +9.5 -110
Clippers -9.5 -110
Nuggets +9.5
Clippers -9.5
Moneyline Nuggets +333
Clippers -455
Nuggets +390
Clippers -500
Nuggets +380
Clippers -490
Total points Over 222.5 -110
Under 222.5 -110
Over 223 -113
Under 223 -108
Over 222.5 -110
Under 222.5 110

That could play into Denver’s favor.

The Nuggets know they are in for a grind and they have to work to reach their goal.

After Denver’s 80-78 Game 7 win on Tuesday, the players’ exhaustion was visible on the court.

How badly do the Nuggets want it?

We’re about to find out.

Series schedule

The good news about Denver’s schedule with the Clippers is the lack of back-to-back games. While the Nuggets only get one day off between the series with Utah and the start of this one, that’s not a concern.

All the games will take place at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

Here’s a look at the series schedule

Nuggets vs Clippers schedule Time (MST)Date TVRadio
Game One 7 p.m. ThursdayTNTAltitude Radio 92.5 FM/950 AM
Game Two
7 p.m. Saturday TNTAltitude Radio 92.5 FM/950 AM
Game Three
7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7TNTAltitude Radio 92.5 FM/950 AM
Game Four 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9ESPNAltitude Radio 92.5 FM/950 AM
Game Five (if necessary)TBDFriday, Sept. 11TNTAltitude Radio 92.5 FM/950 AM
Game Six (if necessary)TBD Sunday, Sept. 13ESPNAltitude Radio 92.5 FM/950 AM
Game Seven (if necessary)TBDTuesday, Sept. 15ESPNAltitude Radio 92.5 FM/950 AM

History as motivation

Don’t underestimate the confidence and motivation Denver gained from the win over the Jazz.

The Nuggets became just the 12th team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 series deficit to win. They know if they play their game, they can beat anyone.

From Game 7 alone, coach Michael Malone can show his team what it can do when it plays well, and what happens when it falls off.

The Nuggets’ first half against Utah was a clinic in exceptional basketball. Aside from closing out the first and second quarters, Denver was dominant.

The message to Denver is clear: play like that team.

If Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets can play like that consistently, they can beat LA.

The question now is, will they?

All about defense

For Denver, it all comes down to defense.

If the defensive intensity is there and the Nuggets make life difficult for the Clippers on the offensive end, that’s the crucial first step.

That means a hand in the face of every shooter and fighting through screens on pick-and-rolls. In simpler terms, no easy shots for Los Angeles.

Tied into that is defensive rebounding. If Denver makes defensive stops, it cannot allow second-chance points, so everyone on the floor has to make a concerted effort to box out and grab rebounds.

This is where the return of guard Gary Harris is huge for the Nuggets.

He got his first game action since March in the last two games.

Expect to see his minutes and role expand. While Denver fights to find its legs, Harris is just finding his.

Michael Porter Jr. is the definite X-factor for the Nuggets in this series. He’s a third option that can do so much. But so is Harris. Fans shouldn’t overlook the intangibles he brings to this team. And Harris can score, too. Malone said after Game 7, he thinks Harris’ offense will pick up.

The offense will be there for the Nuggets — more often than not. If Denver struggles to score as it did in the second half of Game 7, it won’t have a chance against the Clippers. In the final 24 minutes, the Nuggets scored 30 points.

The only people who enjoyed that, aside from Jazz fans, are the people in the Colorado sports betting market who bet the under.

Denver is too good to score only 30 points in a half. But that’s also another sign of exhaustion.

Do the Nuggets have an encore?

Still, all that matters is the Nuggets won and advanced.

Enjoy the win and the history.

Catch your breath, if you can.

Now we’ll find out what Denver has left in the tank.

Although, since the Nuggets just rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win, bet against the Nuggets at your own peril.

Ian St. Clair Avatar
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Ian St. Clair

Ian St. Clair is an award-winning sports journalist. He is a University of Northern Colorado graduate, Colorado native and has over a decade of experience covering college and professional athletics. Ian does a segment each Saturday on Klahr and Kompany on Denver radio station ESPN 1600 AM.

View all posts by Ian St. Clair