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Denver: a City of Hope

The Nuggets are officially the only team in NBA history to come back from multiple 3-1 deficits in a single postseason. They were able to boost themselves against the Utah Jazz in the first round, and did the same against an overwhelming L.A. Clippers roster. Denver was considered a dark-horse all season long, and now they have lived up to that name.

The Nuggets have no championships until now, but that is likely to change. They eliminated the Clippers and are set to face their cross-town rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the Conference Finals. The upcoming series will decide who will have an opportunity to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy. Although the Lakers are favored on paper, Denver has the ability to run away with the spot.

LeBron is looking for his 4th championship in year 17, while the rest of the roster, with some exceptions, is still chasing their first. The Lakers are a very talented team but will need to act cautiously. In an interview, Jamal Murray said "[The Lakers] gotta worry about us". This meant that even Los Angeles were able to berth a 3-1 series lead, the Nuggets could still force a Game 7 and emerge victorious.

Nikola Jokic (left) and Jamal Murray (right) celebrating their Game 7 win with assistant coach Charles Klask

In Game 7, both young stars showed out. Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double (16 points, 22 rebounds, 13 assists) in less than 3 quarters, while Jamal Murray had himself a 40-piece. The Nuggets were trailing by nine in the second quarter, before Jamal Murray hit a series of floaters in to get them within two by halftime. Murray had 25 points in the first half. Jokic was also in a flow, as he was able to dish out multiple impressive assists and snatch more than twenty rebounds.

At the start of the third quarter, Denver trailed by 7, which quickly turned into leading by 7. This was the narrative for many the games this series, as the Clippers always had a good first half, before slipping later on in the game. But that wasn't it; Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the two all-star players on this team, combined for zero points in the fourth quarter. Not a single layup, a single jumper, deep-ball, or even a free throw. In the second half, they had only 5 points, went 2/18 from the field (1/10 from three), and had 4 turnovers. These statlines look like they belong to role players who were just having a bad game, not the best players on a team.

On the note of role players, Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and JaMychal Green combined for 15 fourth quarter points, while taking the same number of shots as George and Leonard. That just goes to show that the Clippers have depth, but need their stars to perform if they want to win it all.

As for Denver, they'll be going up against LeBron and Co. in the Western Conference Finals which will start on Friday. This is Denver's second series with less than three days of rest. Will they be able to keep up the efforts on a potential championship run?

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