After finding themselves down 3-1 in a second straight series, the Denver Nuggets have once again forced a Game 7 to become the first team in NBA history to force a deciding Game 7 in back-to-back series.
The Nuggets have gone to a final seventh game in their last four playoff series appearances. First was during the 2019 playoffs versus the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. Then, facing the Portland Trailblazers in the second round which resulted in a series loss. They continued this streak in the bubble this postseason against the Utah Jazz in the first round and now the Los Angeles Clippers.
Many assumed the Clippers would put the nail in the coffin after Nuggets' forward Michael Porter Jr. raised possible chemistry issues after the Game 4 loss. Porter Jr. critiqued the coaching staff and expressed his desire to be more involved in the offense in the second half of the game after going scoreless.
Porter Jr., who was the 14th draft pick by the Nuggets in 2018, was passed up by the Clippers, who had the two picks prior. Porter now serves a key role in the series and might be the missing third piece that propels this young team to the Western Conference finals.
After scoring 34 points on Sunday, Nuggets star center Nikola Jokić said the Nuggets don’t feel any pressure.
“All pressure is on them," Jokić said. "We just go out there and have fun. Effort needs to be on a high level, have fun and give it your best.”
Leonard, the 2019 Finals MVP, finds himself in a situation similar to last season. In the second round of last year’s playoffs, Leonard made the only game seven buzzer-beater in NBA history to win the series against the Philadelphia 76ers. L.A. may need those same Leonard heroics to advance this season after failing to close out this series despite leading by double-digit points in Game 5 and 6.
Denver hasn’t made it to the Western Conference finals since 2009 and the Clippers have never advanced past the second round in its history.
Game 7 is Tuesday at 6 p.m. PT. The winner will meet a well-rested Los Angeles Lakers.