The 2020 NBA Playoffs continue Monday night with Game 3 of the semifinal Western Conference series between the second-seeded Los Angeles Clippers and third-seeded Denver Nuggets.
Los Angeles dominated Denver in the opener, grabbing a comfortable 120-97 victory. However, the Nuggets had a proper response and outlasted the Clippers 110-101 this past Saturday to tie the series.
We expect to see a great battle between two talented teams on Monday, so let’s see what the bettors can expect from Game 3 along with our best betting pick for the Clippers versus Nuggets showdown.
While the Clippers are coming in full strength, the Nuggets have some serious injury worries. Denver is without Will Barton (knee), but Nikola Jokic’s wrist injury is a big issue. The Joker was spectacular in Game 2, but he picked up a wrist injury and is listed as questionable to play Monday night.
The Clippers are strong 9-point favorites on Bookmaker, while the totals are set at 220.0 points. If nothing changes until the tip-off, the Clippers will be 9-point favorites for the third straight game.
Anyway, keep tracking the updates, as Jokic’s ultimate status could force the bookies to adjust the lines.
What’s at Stake?
This is a big game for both clubs, especially if Nikola Jokic hit the sidelines. The winners will take control of the series and put themselves in a strong position ahead of the next clash.
The Nuggets must be delighted with that 110-101 victory in Game 2. They looked helpless in the opener, so many wrote them off. On the other side, the Clippers desperately need to bounce back. They haven’t dropped two straight games since entering the bubble.
The Clippers owned the Nuggets in Game 1, building an 18-point halftime lead while limiting the Nuggets on 42.2% shooting from the field and 25.0% from beyond the arc. LA shot 57.1% from the field and 41.7% from downtown, but that changed drastically in Game 2.
The Nuggets improved defensively last Saturday, and the Clippers finished the game making just 40.9% of their field goals and 28.1% of their 3-pointers. Kawhi Leonard scored only 13 points on 4-for-17 shooting, while Paul George had 22 points on 7-for-19 shooting from the field.
On the other side, Nikola Jokic posted a double-double of 26 points and 18 rebounds. Jamal Murray had 27 points and six assists, while Garry Harris added 13 points on 4-for-7 shooting from deep.
The Joker’s eventual absence would be a massive blow for the Nuggets, but defense is a key factor for both Denver and LA in this matchup. The Nuggets have to continue with high pressure on the Clippers’ backcourt and wings, while the Clippers need to slow down Murray and Jokic.
The Clippers went 2-1 SU and ATS against the Nuggets this past regular season. They beat Denver 132-103 as 7-point home favorites and 124-111 as 5.5-point favorites in the bubble.
I think the Clippers will play at a much higher level in this one than they did in Game 2. Kawhi will be fired up to make amends for his poor display on Saturday, while I’m not sure that Denver can improve even more on the defensive end.
Therefore, I’m backing the Clippers to win, but picking the alternative spread at seven points should be a smart move. If Jokic doesn’t play, the Clippers shouldn’t’ have any problems to satisfy the odds. However, beating anyone by 10 or more points in the semifinals is a tough job.