Ending with a score of 97-120 in favor of the LA Clippers, this game was only ever close during the first quarter.
On the other end of things, Jamal Murray seemed to have dropped back down to Earth, with his performance not even close to the heights he reached during the series against Utah. Murray had no help either, with Nikola Jokic having a very inefficient game, and the role players were helpless as well.
All these factors combined brewed up a cocktail that resulted in a victory for the favorites from Los Angeles. But this was simply what happened on the surface. Let's dive deeper and analyze this game from both sides.
This was more than just a loss for the Denver Nuggets
As mentioned before, Jamal Murray was nowhere close to the level he was playing at against the Utah Jazz, but that isn't just due to the LA Clippers' elite defense.
The 23-year-old reportedly suffered a thigh injury during Game 7 of the Utah Jazz vs Denver Nuggets series. We have already seen how an injury can hold a player back when Luka Doncic played with an injured ankle. Denver Nuggets fans will be hoping their star point guard can get back to his best soon, but it is unlikely to say the least.
On a day where his co-star was suffering, Nikola Jokic was expected to step up but he vanished completely.
On one of his least efficient nights, Jokic recorded just 15 points and 3 assists. The 25-year-old went cold throughout the game - shooting 6-14 from the field and 0-2 from behind the arc.
While the Denver Nuggets offense was bad, the defense was arguably worse. The earlier-mentioned second quarter was the team's undoing, with the LA Clippers scoring almost too easily.
The Denver Nuggets simply don't have the players that are elite on the defensive end. Bol Bol might develop into that player one day, but for now, the Nuggets would be fools to put that pressure on him.
With no player truly stepping up, the Denver Nuggets are in trouble. The positive is that their performances can only get better from here. But if they are to stand a chance to win, Denver need Nikola Jokic and their role players to step up and play better than they have ever before.
The LA Clippers are stronger than ever
The team led by Kawhi Leonard never looked like it was going to lose this game.
Leonard recorded 29 points in just 32 minutes, shooting a blazing hot 75% from the field.
This performance is nothing new from the LA Clippers star, as he has been consistently great through these playoffs.
In more good news for the Clippers, Patrick Beverley made his return, even if it was for just 12 minutes. During this time, Beverley was close to his defensive best and even joined Marcus Morris in sinking some important shots to take the game away from the opposition.
If there was one worrying sign for the LA Clippers, it was the performance of their second star, Paul George. While George didn't have a bad performance, he didn't look anything like the elite two-way player he is touted to be.
The 30-year-old recorded 19 points and 7 rebounds in 33 minutes. While Paul George was efficient from the field, he shot just 28% from three-point-range. Not bad, but not anything impressive either.
If the LA Clippers are serious about competing for the NBA Championship this year, they will need the second half of their dynamic duo to perform at the elite level he is capable of.
What the future holds for this series
The truth is that the Denver Nuggets are outmatched, and the LA Clippers are just too good on both ends of the floor.
The only way the Denver Nuggets stand a chance to win this series is if Jamal Murray performs at the astronomical levels that he did against Utah, something that is near impossible given his injury and the LA Clippers' elite defense.
After what we've seen in Game 1 of this series, we believe that the LA Clippers will win this series in five games.
Published 04 Sep 2020, 13:30 IST