As much as their first round series was about Jamal Murray, the steady star for the Nuggets in the conference semi-finals has been Nikola Jokic.
The game was tight throughout, with the Clippers finishing with a 33-32 lead in the first quarter, but the Nuggets fought back over the next two quarters to take and 88-84 advantage into the fourth.
The final quarter started all right for the Nuggets, but then the Clippers turned it on.
The Clippers went on an 8-0 run to take a 98-97 lead with 7:01 remaining. The run continued until Jerami grant brought it back to withing 104-103 with 3:51 left. Unfortunately, the Nuggets went cold from the field afterwards.
The Clippers increased their lead with 2:04 left, making it 109-103 after Lou Williams drove to the basket for an easy lay-in.
The Clippers got a great performance from Paul George, who had 32 points on 12 of 18 shooting (5 of 7 from three). More importantly, he played tight and smart defense. He suffocated Murray in the fourth and forced important mistakes, including offensive fouls.
Kawhi Leonard, as he does, played crazy defense in the fourth quarter. He finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists, he also had likely the most impressive defensive play of the game after blocking a dunk attempt with nothing but his fingertips.
Jokic followed up his solid Game 2 performance by leading the Nuggets with 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Michael Porter Jr. had 18 points, and Jamal Murray put up 14.
The Nuggets won’t be able to win this series by going five straight minutes in a fourth quarter without a field goal.
Raptors get dominated by Celtics in Game 5
The Boston Celtics opened Game 5 by outscoring the Raptors 25-11 in the first quarter, and then followed it up with a 37-24 second quarter to create an insurmountable lead that the Toronto Raptors never threatened to recover from.
It was a confidence builder for the Celtics, who have now dealt the Raptors two blowout losses in the series.
Jaylen Brown led them in scoring with 27 points and six rebounds. Kemba Walker had 21 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. Jayson Tatum also added a double-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists.
The Raptors won Games 3 and 4 by a combined margin of eight points. The Celtics won Game 1 and Game 5 by a combined 40 points. When you look at the nature of the victories, it certainly looks like the Celtics have the advantage even if the series goes to seven games.
The Raptors suffered another night with anemic offense. Fred VanVleet led all scorers with 18 points, while Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam both contributed 10. You have to start wondering if all of those nights playing 40-plus minutes a night are starting to take a toll.