The NBA Western Conference Semifinals are taking shape, with the first matchup set. The Los Angeles Clippers face the Denver Nuggets, a battle between two of the three top teams in the conference. The series tips off Thursday in Orlando (FL).
In this article, we’ll break down how each team performed in their first-round series and look at their head-to-head games this season. From there we will cover various bets you can make before things get underway. Be sure to check in for updates on our NBA news page for the most up-to-date information on sportsbook betting as the postseason progresses.
Semifinal Series Schedule
Game 1: Thur, Sept. 3 Denver vs. Los Angeles, 9 p.m. ET (TNT)
Game 2: Sat, Sept. 5 Denver vs. Los Angeles, 9 p.m. ET (TNT)
Game 3: Mon, Sept. 7 Los Angeles vs. Denver, 9 p.m. ET (TNT)
Game 4: Wed, Sept. 9 Los Angeles vs. Denver, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Game 5*: Fri, Sept. 11 Denver vs. Los Angeles, TBD (TNT)
Game 6*: Sun, Sept. 13 Los Angeles vs. Denver, TBD (ESPN)
Game 7*: Tues, Sept. 15 Denver vs. Los Angeles, TBD (ESPN)
The Clippers and Nuggets met for the first time in January. Denver ended up winning, 114-104 and was actually favored (-1).
In their second meeting., the Clippers were -7. They ended up beating Denver, 132-103, easily covering.
They didn’t play again until August where they faced off in the seeding round. The spread was set in favor of the Clippers at -5.5 and they once again defeated the Nuggets 124-111.
When you look at their last two games it seems pretty clear that Los Angeles is overall the better team heading into this series. We’ll take a close look at the series odds down below.
You can find these stats and more on our matchup tabs on your NBA betting page. There’s a treasure trove of information there. Simply find the game you want to wager on and click on the “matchup” tab under the team totals to access a wide range of stats.
In the Bubble
The Clippers have had a decent showing in Orlando. Their record in Florida was 5-3 during the seeding round. This statistic is impressive considering they are the team that had the most players come in and out of quarantine since the NBA moved to Disney.
The Clippers ousted the Dallas Mavericks in six games. It wasn’t easy. The Mavericks, despite some moments of brilliance, couldn’t get past losing Kristaps Porzingis to injury but put up a great fight.
The Denver Nuggets were a bit sluggish in the seeding round, ending up 3-5. In the end, it didn’t matter as they were able to clinch the No. 3 seed.
Their Round 1 matchup was against the Utah Jazz, who, despite being seeded at No. 6 had been playing excellent in Florida. Denver advanced over Utah 4-3 in an exciting series.
Clippers’ Round 1 Breakdown
For a minute there it looked like the Clippers were struggling against the Dallas Mavericks. Los Angeles opened with a win in Game 1, but it was a back-and-forth affair through Game 4 where the Mavericks managed to knot the series.
Paul George was rocky on defense and on offense. To be fair, Luka Doncic proved to be more than a worthy foe, posting huge numbers game after game and sinking big shots when they mattered most. Truth be told, it was a riveting series and could easily have gone to seven games if Porzingis didn’t miss the majority of the gamey.
Unsurprisingly, Kawhi Leonard has been leading the Clipper in a big way. He posted 32.8 PPG, 10.2 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 2.3 steals against the Mavericks. He is leading the team in every major statistic except for blocks.
Lou Williams, the Clippers’ sixth man, played an incredible series and was one of the top scorers in multiple games. He’s averaging 16.0 PPG in the playoffs.
George was sub-par against the Mavericks and despite the criticism, he was able to step it up in Game 6 and help them close the series. Though he’s not playing up to his usual standards he is the second-highest scorer in the postseason, averaging 18.5 PPG.
If the Clippers can manage to get George playing at his full potential, their odds to win the NBA Western Conference are going to stay extremely high.
Nuggets’ Round 1 Breakdown
The Denver Nuggets-Utah Jazz matchup was an exciting series. In Game 1, the Nuggets defeated the Jazz in overtime, 135-125.
Then Donovan Mitchell happened. In Game 2, Utah came out blazing and defeated Denver, 124-105, with Mitchell leading the way with 30 points. He continued to lead his team as the Jazz won Game 3, 124-87, and Game 4, 129-127.
Despite facing elimination, the Nuggets managed to get their heads on straight and began to claw their way back. Led by Jamal Murray, who was exchanging buckets with Mitchell the entire series, they closed the gap in Game 5, winning 117-107. Then they tied things up in Game 6, 119-107.
Finally, Tuesday they had an all-out brawl, narrowly beating the Jazz 80-78. The team came together as a unit to win three in a row, but it would have been impossible without the efforts of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
Murray managed to reach the 50-point plateau twice. He’s the first player since Allen Iverson in 2001 to score at least 40 points in three consecutive playoff games. Overall, Murray ended the series averaging 31.6 PPG, 5.6 rebounds and 6.3 assists.
Right behind him is Jokic who, aside from scoring the game-winning basket in Game 7, averaging 26.3 PPG, 8.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists.
Place your bets on who will win the NBA Championship. The Clippers are tied with the Lakers at +225 to go all the way. These teams are currently the co-favorites. The Nuggets are sitting at +2400. They are long shots.
Odds To Win Series
Just looking at the odds to win the NBA Championship it’s clear who the favorite team is in this series. There’s no such thing as a sure bet, but putting your money on the Clippers to take this series seems close to it.
Here are the series odds:
LA Clippers: -1400
Denver Nuggets: +800
Prediction: Clippers in 6
Despite the heroic efforts of Murray and Jokic, the Nuggets don’t have the depth needed to overtake the Clippers. They are going to have a tough time matching up against Leonard and George, especially if the latter gets into a good rhythm. With players like Williams coming off the bench for Los Angeles, it will make Denver pay when it has to rest its stars.