Denver's young superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray led the franchise to a historic 104-89 Game 7 victory over the LA Clippers.
Jokic stuffed the stat sheet with a 16-point, 22-rebound, 13-assist triple-double while Murray erupted for a 40-piece.
Nikola Jokic is the first player to have a 20-rebound triple-double in a playoff game since Kevin Garnett in 2004 and the first in playoff history to do it in a Game 7 https://t.co/Y6xD08r2v6 pic.twitter.com/g04HV2GEBB- Basketball Reference (@bball_ref) September 16, 2020
For a third straight game, the Nuggets dominated the second half to seal the organisation's fourth Conference Finals appearance and the first since 2009. The Nuggets have now won six-straight elimination games and become the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 series deficits in consecutive playoff series.
For more on this game, here are a few quick observations from this game:
1. Double-digit deficits. So what?
For a third straight game, the Nuggets trailed by double-digits in the first half but yet again, they refused to give up. In this game, they were tied at 24 after the first quarter but went down by as many as 12 in the second quarter and just like the earlier games, they responded.
After Paul Millsap kept them within distance in Game 6, Murray kept it close in Game 6.
2. Murray's red-hot second quarter
In the previous six games of the series, Murray only scored more than 25 once - 26 in Game 5.
However, in this winner-take-all contest. The Canadian guard scored 20 of his game-high 25 first-half points in the second quarter, keeping the Nuggets in the game.
🏹 20 PTS in 2nd Q- NBA (@NBA) September 16, 2020
🏹 25 in 1st half
Jamal Murray was feeling it in the 1st half of GAME 7 on ESPN! #NBAPlayoffs @nuggets 54@LAClippers 56 pic.twitter.com/xI0Ri1OCcG
His nine made field goals are the most by any player in a quarter of a playoff game in the play-by-play era (since 1997). Here's a look at this shot chart in the second quarter:
Courtesy of his red-hot second quarter, the Nuggets only trailed by two at the half (56-54).
3. Williams & Harrell get it going early but struggle late
The Clippers' bench duo have struggled to get it going in this postseason, especially in this series.
They had it going early in their short minutes in the first half. Lou Williams had four points and four assists in 12 minutes while the Sixth Man of the Year Harrell had 12 points in 13 first-half minutes.
However, down the stretch, both couldn't carry this momentum especially Williams. He finished with just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting. Harrell finished with 20 points but was -8 in his 25 minutes on the floor.
4. Jokic, Millsap spark Denver's huge 3rd quarter run
For a second straight game, veteran Paul Millsap sparked another third-quarter run. His two big 3-pointers in the third were part of a 22-3 Nuggets run. They went from trailing 61-54 to leading 76-67.
Murray ➡️ Jokic ➡️ Millsap!@nuggets 76@LAClippers 70- NBA (@NBA) September 16, 2020
WIN or GO HOME GAME 7 on ESPN pic.twitter.com/x0P9N3KND5
The first 1:30 minutes of the third quarter belonged to the Clippers but the rest of the way, it was all Nuggets. Over the final 10:30 of the third period, the Nuggets outscored the Clippers by 15 (28-13) to lead by 82-74 at the end of the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the Serbian center registered his fifth career playoff triple-double in the quarter.
Nikola Jokic has 2 career Game 7 triple-doubles.- StatMuse (@statmuse) September 16, 2020
No other player has more in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/tAwdEgvwMW
5. Struggles for Clippers' stars
The Clippers All-NBA superstars had their worst games combined at probably the worst time possible.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George only combined for 24 points on 10-of-38 shooting from the field. Here's a look at their combined shot chart:
They combined for seven of the team's 10 turnovers. Leonard was a team-worst -21 in his 43 minutes while George was a -20 in his 38 minutes.
6. What's next?
The Clippers now fall to 0-8 in games where they have a chance to seal their first-ever Conference Finals appearance. Everybody will have to wait for a Clippers-Lakers playoff series.
The Nuggets, on the other hand, will play the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Friday, September 18th at 9:00 PM E.T.
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