Good afternoon, folks. The Denver Nuggets do not lose Game 5s. Let’s talk NBA Bubble.
Murray and Nuggets force Game 6
The Denver Nuggets have been thoroughly outplayed by the Los Angeles Clippers for the last 2.5 games, and yet, they have managed to keep themselves alive in this series thanks to an excellent second-half outing in Game 5. Trailing by 12 at the intermission and as many as 15 points in the early stages of the second half, the Nuggets–thanks to 14 third-quarter points from Paul Millsap–fought all the way back to take command of the game down the stretch. It was Millsap’s energy that sparked the run, which allowed Denver’s stars to get into a rhythm. Jamal Murray finished with 26 points, Nikola Jokic added 22, and rookie Michael Porter Jr. hit a clutch triple late in the game that he followed up with a critical block on Ivica Zubac right at the rim with under 40 seconds remaining.
Murray didn’t have his most efficient game, despite his 26 points. It took him 25 attempts just to get there, although he was 5-7 from beyond the arc. It was the relentless hounding by several Clippers defenders that kept Murray off his groove, something that has given him fits since Game 2. However, he still managed to contribute eight rebounds and seven assists while turning the ball over just once. Coming into the fourth quarter, Denver was just 5-18 as a team from the perimeter, but Murray and Jokic combined to hit five of the team’s seven 3s in the fourth quarter, delivering clutch shot after clutch shot en route to a series-extending victory.
Denver was down 3-1 in the previous series against the Utah Jazz before mounting an improbable comeback, but no team has ever overcome a 3-1 series hole twice in the same postseason. Thanks to a 111-105 win, the Nuggets aren’t leaving Orlando quite yet and have the chance to make history once again. While the Jazz is nowhere near as good as the Clippers, the Nuggets have been here before. They were dead in the water through the first 24 minutes of Game 5 but found enough life and energy to see another day. L.A. should probably be slightly worried that they collapsed so quickly after being in the driver’s seat for so long.
Boston fends off Toronto in thrilling Game 7
It was close the entire way, much like the last couple of games from his series, but in the end, the Boston Celtics did enough to move onto the Eastern Conference Finals where they’ll face the Miami Heat for a shot at the Finals. Boston secured a tightly-contested 92-87 win over the Toronto Raptors in Game 7, utilizing a fourth-quarter run that gave them enough cushion to put away the defending champs for good.
The Raptors came into Friday night as winners of three consecutive Game 7s and were on the brink of becoming just the fourth team in NBA history to win four in a row. However, the Celtics had other plans, mainly drawn up by All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, who poured in 29 points. Game 7 wasn’t perfect by any means, considering Boston shot just 9-38 from beyond the arc and Toronto turned the ball over 18 times, but it was emblematic of how this series has played itself out. Both sides were scratching and crawling in the final minutes, leaving everything they had on the hardwood as they traded baskets in the closing minutes. The Celtics led by a score of 72-71 with just 12 minutes left in the series before holding the Raptors to just 16 points in the final period.
While I’m sad to see this series go, I’m even more excited for Celtics-Heat in the coming days.
Series standings from Friday
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
(3) Celtics beat (2) Raptors 4-3
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
(2) Clippers lead (3) Nuggets 3-2
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||111-105 W @ LAC||26||9-25 (5-7)||8||7||0||0||1||+9||39|
|Patrick Patterson (LAC)||105-111 L vs. DEN||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Enes Kanter (BOS)||92-87 W @ TOR||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE BUBBLE
8:00 (ESPN): Rockets @ Lakers (Davis, Rondo) [LAL leads 3-1]