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Clippers to face the Denver Nuggets in second round of NBA playoffs

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard dribbles against the Denver Nuggets on Aug. 12.
Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard controls the ball in front of the Denver Nuggets’ defense during a win Aug. 12.
(Kim Klement / Associated Press)

The Clippers will play Denver in the second round of the NBA playoffs after the Nuggets defeated Utah in Game 7 of their first-round series Tuesday.

The Nuggets, who finished the regular season as the Western Conference’s third seed, eked out an 80-78 victory in the NBA bubble near Orlando, Fla., after a potential game-winning three-pointer from Utah’s Mike Conley rimmed out at the buzzer.

After rallying from a 3-1 deficit to win the series, Denver has only two days to prepare for a rested Clippers team that clinched its own first-round series Sunday. Game 1 of the second-round series will tip off at 6 p.m. PDT on Thursday on TNT.

The Clippers won the season series against Denver 2-1, including a 13-point win Aug. 12. They are coming off a six-game series against Dallas that was clinched after the Clippers won the final two games by holding the Mavericks to less than 45% shooting.

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With the Clippers waiting for their NBA playoff journey to continue, the welcoming of families to the NBA bubble provides a boost to player morale.

“I thought these last few games we kind of figured out for us to be a successful basketball team the things that we need to do on the basketball floor, and we just got back to that,” Clippers guard Lou Williams said Tuesday. “We got back to the basics of knowing what we need to do to win, and we bottled that up.”

The chief task of the Clippers in the second round will be bottling up guard Jamal Murray, who averaged 34 points per game in the first six games of the series and added 17 in Tuesday’s clincher. Center Nikola Jokic finished with 30 points Tuesday.

Having two extra days to wait for the end of Denver’s series with Utah allowed more time for Clippers guard Patrick Beverley to recover from the strained left calf that has sidelined him since the postseason opener Aug. 17. Coach Doc Rivers on Sunday said that Beverley was close to being ready to return.


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