Despite entering the series as the heavy favorites, the Los Angeles Clippers were still unable to completely defeat the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the 2020 Playoffs. After winning three of the first four games, they struggled to obtain another victory. The Nuggets successfully forced a Game 7 and recently got their fourth win, 104-89, to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
The Nuggets and the Clippers looked evenly matched in the first two quarters of Game 7, but in the second half, Denver managed to limit Los Angeles' production on the offensive end and outscored them, 50-33. Aside from their struggle to find their rhythm, they didn't seem to be in their best condition when they went up against the Nuggets on Tuesday night. In a Twitter post, Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated revealed that some of the Clippers' players were experiencing fatigue in the final minutes of Game 7.
"Several Clippers were so fatigued during Game 7 against Denver that they struggled to play stints longer than three minutes and asked out of the game for a breather in the fourth quarter, sources told @TheUndefeated."After a strong start, the Clippers really didn't look like their usual selves when the third quarter began. While the Nuggets' young star duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic established an impressive performance on both ends of the floor, the Clippers' two best players, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, only finished the game with 14 points and 10 points, respectively. However, some people might feel puzzled that the Clippers were the ones who suffered fatigue in the series.
After knocking out the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the first round, the Clippers got the opportunity to take some rest before their matchup series against Denver started. Meanwhile, before heading to the second round, the Nuggets just had a tough matchup against Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz that extended to seven games.
Most fans were disappointed with the Clippers, especially knowing that they entered the 2019-20 NBA season as the heavy favorite to bring home the Larry O'Brien Trophy. In an interview with Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, coach Doc Rivers did not offer any excuse for their inability to beat the Nuggets. Rivers also took the blame for their Game 7 loss.
"We didn't meet them," Rivers said of the expectations. "That's the bottom line. I'm the coach, and I'll take any blame for it. But we didn't meet our expectations, clearly, because if we had, in my opinion, we'd still be playing."
After eliminating the Clippers, Jokic and the Nuggets are set to face the other L.A. team next. Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Nuggets and the Lakers will be Friday night.