A look at how the No. 2-seeded Clippers and third-seeded Denver Nuggets match up for their second-round playoff series that starts Thursday:
Clippers / Denver
Marcus Morris Sr., 6-8 | F | Paul Millsap, 6-7
Ivica Zubac, 7-0 | C | Nikola Jokic,; 7-0
Landry Shamet, 6-4 | G | Monte Morris, 6-2
Kawhi Leonard, 6-7 | G | Jamal Murray, 6-4
In Leonard and Murray, the matchup features two of the postseason’s most unstoppable scorers. Leonard averaged 32.8 points during the first round, and Murray 31.6 — including a three-game stretch when he scored 50, 42 and 50 points while committing one combined turnover. The Clippers have averaged 47 points in the paint in the postseason, second most among playoff teams, a category in which Denver ranks 14th with 34.6 points per game. Los Angeles is unbeaten when outrebounding an opponent in the playoffs and it will be a key barometer of success again. Denver’s offensive rebounding percentage ranks fourth in the postseason and has helped them score 12.4 second-chance points per game.
Clippers / Denver
Reggie Jackson, 6-3 | G | Torrey Craig, 6-7
Patrick Beverley, 6-1 | G | P.J. Dozier, 6-6
Beverley, a fixture in the Clippers’ starting lineup until his left calf injury sidelined him for five games, “looks pretty good,” coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday, but stopped short of guaranteeing that Beverley will be available for Game 1. Porter went from the bench to starter during the seeding round and the first three games of the first round before moving back into a reserve role. The former top high school star is perhaps the Nuggets’ most dynamic offensive option but can get lost defensively. Denver’s best defender is Harris, though he has only recently returned from a strained hip. Rivers has called Plumlee an underrated passer.
Rivers has faced seven Western Conference teams in the postseason since joining the Clippers seven years ago, yet this will be his first time preparing for Denver, which is 2-1 in playoff series under coach Mike Malone. All three series have gone the full seven games. Malone is the son of Brendan Malone, an NBA coach from 1986-2016.
Though no team can claim home-court advantage during these neutral-site playoffs, Denver might have lost the biggest edge of any postseason team during the move from its mile-high home arena to Disney World (elevation: 108 feet). Since 2017, when the core of the current roster was formed, the Clippers are just 1-3 in Denver.