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Nuggets escape, and here come the Clippers

That was a little too close

Denver's Jamal Murray (27) carried the Nuggets throughout their series win against the Utah Jazz, but he almost became the goat in Game 7.
Mark J. Terrill | AP photo

You don’t have long to recover from whatever heart attack you had as the Nuggets’ 80-78 Game 7 won over the Utah Jazz.

Denver starts its Round 2 series against the Los Angeles Clippers tonight at 7 p.m. (broadcast is on TNT.)

Were the Nuggets lucky to escape Round 1? Coming back from down 3-1 shows a certain amount of grit in this team previously not in evidence. Down 3-1, Denver fans were getting that here-we-go-again-first-round feeling.

That said, Denver made the finish a bit more scary than it needed to be. The obvious faux pas was Torrey Craig missing a gimme layup with 4.4 ticks left, a bucket which would have given the Nuggets a four-point lead, rendering Utah’s Mike Conley’s oh-so-close 3-point attempt at the buzzer moot.

But the real mistake falls on Jamal Murray. Yes, irony can be very ironic because Murray was a stud against the Jazz. Nonetheless, you have to know the situation.

Teammate Gary Harris poked the ball loose from Utah with the rock going to Murray. Instead of going to the hole and eventually passing to Craig, Murray should have pulled up. It would have wasted more time, and forced the Jazz to foul Murray.

Murray shot 92% from the line during the series against the Jazz and was going at an 88% clip during the regular season. Minimum, he was making 1-of-2, sending the game into overtime had Conley drained his 3. Odds are good Murray makes both and that’s ball game.

It’s a small thing, but the playoffs are about the small things, especially when you’re down to the nitty-gritty, essentially the NBA quarterfinals. The Clippers (Kahwi Leonard, Paul George et al.) are scary.

Not that we endorse wagering, but the Clippers opened at minus-255 to win the series and the Game 1 spread has moved from six to eight points. While the odds aren’t an athletic analysis, they do show where the money is going.

Denver is a substantial underdog in this series. Better get your game on, Nuggets.


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