One for The History Books (Analysis of the Denver v Utah series)

By: Matteo Raffa


Coming back from a 3-1 lead in any sport is not an easy task.  Before the Denver Nuggets knocked Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz out of the Bubble, it has only happened 11 other times in NBA history (last done by the 2016 Cavaliers in the Finals).  Throughout the series, Mitchell and Denver’s Jamal Murray were lighting up the court with electric shooting and finishing at the rim.  Never before in NBA history have two players in a series scored 50 points in the same game.  ‘Spida’ Mitchell is also one of three players in NBA history to score 50 points twice in a single series, the others being Allen Iverson and Michael Jordan. Donovan’s 57 point game 1 now stands as the third highest scoring postseason performance behind only Jordan and Baylor.




This series was great TV for the NBA.  The two young guards were battling head to head every single night, as well as centers Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert going to war in the paint.  Both teams shot over 55% from the field during the 7 games with someone scoring over 30 points ELEVEN different times.  The first six permonces led the league and fans to believe that we would see another high scoring, offensive driven Game 7.  However, the final score of the game was only 80-78, a score that you would typically see at the end of the 3rd Quarter on a normal night.  Jokic led all players with 30 points, and hit a game winning skyhook that capped off Denver’s comeback.


The last time that I was on the edge of my seat watching every game of a series was the 2016 Finals.  To me, it is a shame that we could not see this matchup as a WCF.  The young stars of these two teams showed that they have a place in this league and are a threat to recognize for future years to come.  As Denver prepares for their next series with the LA Clippers, it is important that they contain Kawhi Leonard in ways that they could not control Donovan Mitchell.  If Kawhi Leonard scores 57 points, the Clippers will not lose that game like the Jazz did in Game 1. 


Nobody would have predicted the series to play out as it did. It had everything a basketball fan could want from a playoff series and then some. The Nuggets move on to the Conference semifinals against the Clippers. While the Clippers have been considered a serious title contender since before the start of the season, I expect this series to be hard fought. If the Nuggets are at their best, we could see a major upset and 



MAIN TAKEAWAYS:

  • Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray are serious NBA stars already.  When players show up in the playoffs the way these two did, they establish themselves to the upper echelon of the league.

  • Nikola Jokic is better than your center.  The 7 foot Serbian can shoot the lights out, pass with John Wall’s vision, and make your DPOY big man look silly on the block. PS (I don’t even think we saw him at his best during this seres

  • Give Mike Malone some credit.  The Nuggets were down 3-1, it takes some serious coaching and motivation to will your team to fight the next four games.

  • Clippers in 6.

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