The backs-against-the-wall-thing the Nuggets have going might not be just a narrative.
Now it’s the second-seeded, heavily favored, championship-contending Clippers who have their backs against the wall.
Denver stormed back to beat L.A. 111-98 in Game 6 on Sunday, forcing a deciding Game 7 on Monday in the wild Western Conference semifinal series in the bubble.
With the franchise’s first conference finals berth on the line, Clippers coach Doc Rivers expressed confidence before Game 6 that his talented group could overcome whatever elimination-game mojo the Nuggets have had going in the bubble: “They’re desperate, but so are we, we’re desperate every game as well.”
But Denver’s desperation outdid the Clippers’ desire to make history and advance, as for the second consecutive game, the Nuggets rallied from a substantial deficit to deny L.A. an opportunity to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
This time, Denver roared back from a 19-point deficit with 10:10 to go in the third quarter. That after they’d overcome a 16-point gap in Game 5.
The Clippers’ blown 19-point lead equals the largest by a team with a chance to clinch a conference finals appearance since 1997 — and ties their own collapse in 2015, when Houston rallied in Game 6.
Denver will try to be the first team to come back from being down 3-1 in a series multiple times in a postseason. They did it in the first round against Utah.
The Clippers led 63-47 at halftime, but then they went frigid in the second half, shooting 26.3% (10 for 38) from the field.
On the other end, Denver made 22 of its final 36 attempts (61.1%) to turn the tide in a major way.
Quipped Denver coach Michael Malone: “We like to keep the ratings up.”
More to come on this story.