So much for the predictable NBA. Yes, we knew that the crumbling of Golden State’s dynasty would provide more parity to a league that saw Stephen Curry’s team reach the Finals for five consecutive seasons, but we also figured that the Western Conference Finals were destined to be a battle between LeBron James’s Lakers and Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers. As Lee Corso would say if ESPN let him talk about basketball, “not so fast, my friend!”
The Nuggets dismantled the Clippers in Game 7 of their second round playoff series on Tuesday night, outscoring Los Angeles 50-33 in the second half en route to a 104-89 spanking. Just days ago, the Nuggets were down 3-1 in the series and apparently on their way out. Of course, not too long before THAT, they were down 3-1 to the Jazz as well, but no one could have predicted a second straight series comeback. Certainly not with Leonard on the opposing team.
But it’s been a magical run in the bubble for the team coached by Mike Malone. Jamal Murray, who brought the Nuggets back in that Utah series by scoring 92 points combined in Game 5 and Game 6, scored 40 on the Clippers in Game 7 on 15-for-26 shooting. At the same time, Denver’s other unsung superstar Nikola Jokic was busy doing everything else. He scored just 16 points, but grabbed 22 rebounds and handed out 13 assists. The Denver defense held Leonard and Paul “Playoff P” George to a combined 10-for-38 shooting night with 24 points.
We won’t get the marquee match-up that many were hoping for in the Western Conference Finals, but watching the underdog Nuggets take on LeBron’s legacy should be fascinating… unless Denver runs out of gas and gets swept.
Meanwhile, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals was just as intense as I thought it would be. Miami and Boston battled into overtime and might have gone further if not for Bam Adebayo’s incredible rejection of Jayson Tatum with three seconds remaining. The play allowed the Heat to come away with a 117-114 win. I’d be surprised if this evenly-matched series doesn’t go seven games.
With the field thinning out, there’s no NBA basketball on tonight, but that’s okay because the Mets take up all my time anyway. Last night they pissed away scoring opportunities and lost 4-1 in Philadelphia. Rick Porcello got off to a brilliant start on the mound but ran into trouble with two outs and the bases empty in the fourth.
After Porcello walked Jean Segura, Scott Kingery doubled to put the two runners in scoring position. Two batters later, Adam Haseley drove them both in with a line drive to center field.
Brandon Nimmo answered with a solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the fifth, but Didi Gregorius hit a two-run bomb to cap the scoring in the bottom of the inning. In the sixth, the Mets loaded the bases with one out only for Wilson Ramos to ground into a double play. Not clutch.
The Mets are now four losses behind the Phillies and three losses behind San Francisco for the National League wild card spots. Tonight and Thursday are New York’s last chances to make up ground directly by playing against a team in the hunt. The team better bring it these next two nights.