Good luck, Denver Nuggets.
You’re playing the Los Angeles Clippers tonight in Game 7 of a series that could land you in the Western Conference finals against the Lakers.
And I doubt the folks in the NBA office want to see you go all the way to the NBA Finals. My guess is that the popular outcome of this game is the Clippers winning, guaranteeing the league having one team in the Finals from Los Angeles.
We’ve seen plenty of allegations that the league’s officials have been instructed to step in when a specific playoff outcome is in doubt. And this season with no fans in the stands and much revenue lost, the NBA needs to maximize television viewers.
TV ratings are important, of course. Very important. Could be that the NBA would want Denver to advance, to give the Lakers and LeBron a better chance of making it to the Finals.
But I doubt it. Two LA teams matched in the conference finals is just too appealing. And, by the way, I'm still not convinced the Nuggets are legit.
My problem with jumping on the Denver bandwagon is that I had a ringside seat for the Nuggets’ collapse last season in a similar playoff situation -- only it was in Denver, site of the biggest homecourt advantage in the NBA: That was Game 7 vs. the Trail Blazers in a conference semi-final series.
In the second half of that game, the Nuggets, who had a 17-point first-half lead, went 0-9 from three, shot 33 percent from the field and allowed Portland to shoot 51.1 percent as CJ McCollum and Evan Turner destroyed Denver down the stretch.
The Trail Blazers were terrific and the Nuggets were terrible. Jamal Murray was 2-10 after halftime and Nikola Jokic was 6-16.
Yeah, that was last season, I know. But still… teams don't often change personalities without a coaching change.
So perhaps the Clippers won’t even need any help from charitable officiating. But it may be there if they need it.