The NBA season helps kick off with their annual Christmas Day slate of games. Fives games will be up on the board throughout Friday night. The Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets will finish off the night of action with a rematch from last season’s Western Conference Semifinals. This game will tip off at around 10:30 PM Eastern time on ESPN.
Los Angeles earned a win in their first game of the season. The Clippers finished out last season with a record of 49-23, which had them sitting in second place of the Western Conference. Los Angeles knocked off the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, but fell to the Denver Nuggets in the second round. The Clippers will look to get a little revenge in this matchup on Friday night.
The Nuggets took a tough loss in overtime during their first game. Denver put up a record of 46-27 last season, which had them in third place of the Western Conference. The Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Finals last season, but lost to the Lakers in five games. Denver will look to bounce back this season as they try to make another strong push in the Western Conference.
These two teams are still looking to find some rhythm early in the season. I expect both teams to come out in this one strong after meeting plenty throughout last season. The Clippers were upset in the Semifinals series against Denver and they will look to bounce back in this one. The Nuggets will look to continue to frustrate Los Angeles with their quick paced game.
The Clippers and the Nuggets met up three times throughout the regular season. The first meeting was in Denver, where the Nuggets were able to earn a 114-104 win. The Clippers bounced back in the second game of the season series though, earning a 132-103 win. Los Angeles won the final battle of the regular season with a 124-111 win in the qualifiers in August.
Denver and Los Angeles met up in the second round of the postseason as well. The Clippers took the first game of the series with a 120-97 win. The Nuggets tied the series with a 110-101 win. Los Angeles won the third and fourth game of the series to take a 3-1 series lead. Denver would not go away though, winning three straight games to book a spot in the Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers still have the sour taste of getting knocked out of the playoffs by Denver, but it is worse because Los Angeles blew a 3-1 series lead. I expect the Clippers to come into this matchup with a chip on their shoulder. Los Angeles was very close to booking a battle with the Lakers, but instead were sent home early. If the Clippers can come out motivated, it could be enough to power them to a big win on Christmas Day.
Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both put up strong performances in the Clippers opener. George dropped 33 points, while Leonard finished with 26 points on the night. Serge Ibaka had a nice performance in his first game with Los Angeles, dropping 15 points. Ivica Zubac and Lou Williams both finished with 11 points, while Patrick Beverly scored 10 points in the win.
Nikola Jokic had a big opening night performance on Tuesday night. Jokic scored 29 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists. Michael Porter Jr. dropped 24 points as well. Paul Millsap and Will Barton both finished with 16 points. Gary Harris had 10 points on the night, while Jamal Murray had a disappointing performance, only scoring 9 points.
The Clippers saw George and Leonard step up in Los Angeles’ first game of the season. Jokic had a big performance on Wednesday night for the Nuggets, but Jamal Murray was not existent on offense. Murray went 1-9 from the field and 0-5 from deep. Denver will need Murray to step up in this one if they want to bounce back with another win against Los Angeles.
Field Goal Shooting Last Season
Los Angeles was a solid field goal shooting team throughout last season, but were even better on defense. The Clippers made around 46.6 percent of their shots from the field, which was 12th in the NBA. Los Angeles made around 37.1 percent of their shots from deep, which was 6th in the league. The Clippers made 47.3 percent of their shots in the season opener.
The Nuggets were one of the best field goal shooting teams last season. Denver was able to shoot 47.3 percent from the field last season, which was 4th best in the league. The Nuggets also made 35.9 percent of their shots from behind the arc and 53.3 percent of their shots from in close. Denver made 48 percent of their shots from the field against Sacramento.
These two teams were very similar shooting teams last season, with Denver being a bit more efficient from the field. The Clippers defense was better though last season, but struggled to slow down the Nuggets in the playoffs. Los Angeles will look to force Denver to take poor shots in this one to get back to their game. If the Clippers can shut down the Nuggets starting lineup, they will have a great chance to win to finish out Christmas Day’s games.
These two teams will meet in an anticipated matchup on December 25. The Clippers are looking to come out strong on Friday night to get some revenge after being eliminated by this Nuggets team. I like Los Angeles in this one as they try to earn a big win. The Clippers came out strong against the Lakers on opening night and if they can do it again in this one, it should be enough to lead them to a big victory.
BetOnline has Los Angeles listed as a -2 ½ against the spread in this one, which gives a small edge to the Clippers on Friday night. The Nuggets are at home in this one, but that does not give a huge edge with no fans. Denver did not look great besides Jokic and Porter in their overtime loss to the Kings. If the Clippers can slow those two down, it should help them cover on Christmas Day.