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Nuggets vs Clippers Game 1 Odds and Picks

Los Angeles Clippers
Kawhi Leonard averaged 32.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists in the opening round of the playoffs. Photo by @SportsCenter (Twitter).
  • The Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers play Game 1 of their West Semifinals playoff series on Thursday (Sept. 3, 9 pm EST)
  • Kawhi Leonard has scored at least 30-points in five straight postseason games
  • See below for a betting preview and prediction for Game 1

Most basketball experts expected the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers to meet in the West Semifinals, but few predicted the struggles each team would go through to get to this point. The Clippers needed six games to dispose of the Dallas Mavericks, while the Nuggets had to rally from a 3-1 series deficit to get past the Utah Jazz.

Game 1 of the West Semifinals goes Thursday at 9 pm EST, and there was little debate over who the favorite would be.

Nuggets vs Clippers Game 1 Odds

Team Spread at FanDuel Moneyline Total
Denver Nuggets +6 (-110) +210 OTB
Los Angeles Clippers -6 (-110) -255 OTB

Odds taken Sept. 1st

LA opened up as a -255 moneyline favorite in the NBA odds, and are currently favored by 6-points. These two teams met once in the Orlando Bubble last month, with Los Angeles prevailing 124-111 on the strength of 27 points from Paul George, and 26 from Kawhi Leonard.

Playoff Kawhi is Unstoppable

The main reason it took the Clippers six games to beat the Mavericks was because they got very little production from everybody not named Kawhi for the first four games. Leonard was a one-man wrecking crew for the entire first round, and he saved his best performance for the series finale.

Leonard racked up 33 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals in Game 6, joining Gary Payton as the only players this Millennium with a playoff stat line that stacked. He’s scored at least 30 points in five straight and no one on the entire Dallas roster could guard him.

Denver is likely to suffer the same fate as they were repeatedly torched by Donovan Mitchell in the first round, and have been atrocious on defense since the restart.

Defensively Challenged

The Nuggets surrendered 119.3 points per game in the first round of the playoffs, allowing opponents to hit 50.4% of their field goal attempts. Opposing players shot 44.9% from three and only the Philadelphia 76ers forced fewer turnovers per outing. That must be music to the Clippers ears, as they were the highest scoring team in the opening round, averaging 126.7 points per game and 40.4% from three.

Denver’s sub-par defense has been a reoccurring theme since the restart, as they surrendered 123.3 points per outing in the final eight regular season games. They did get a boost from the return of Gary Harris this week, but it’s going to take a whole lot more than one player to slow down Kawhi and the Clips.

LA Clips a Tired Denver Squad in Game 1

The Nuggets looked exhausted at the end of their Game 7 victory over the Jazz, while Los Angeles has been off since Sunday. That extra rest could play a big factor in Game 1 and is one of many reasons to like the Clippers. LA has scored at least 114 points in all but one of its last 13 contests and should have no problem racking up a big total on Thursday.

One thing to pay close attention to is the health of Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley. The defensive specialist has played just four times since the restart due to a calf injury, and missed five of the six games against the Mavericks. With him out of the lineup the over has been insanely profitable, hitting eight times in 10 games.

Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -6 (-110)

 

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