The NBA Christmas day extravaganza is finally upon us, and the Los Angeles Clippers are set to end the night with a highly anticipated rematch of the 2020 Western Conference Semi-Finals against the Denver Nuggets.
As we prepare for what should be a highly competitive and heated game, let’s take a look at a few storylines to watch out for in the final matchup of the NBA Christmas slate.
Paul George’s Revenge Game
While Paul George’s overall numbers in the semi-final matchup against the Nuggets were solid, he once against shrunk when the pressure was on. With everything on the line in Game 7, George only scored 3 points in the entire second half. You expect more out of your stars than this, and that final memory of the 2020 season will haunt George and the Clippers, who were seen as shoe-ins to face the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Paul George comes into the 2021-21 season with a chip on his shoulder and a legacy to change. He got off to a great start with a big night against the Lakers in the first game of the season, but Christmas Day should provide more answers on his outlook for the season. If he can put his demons behind him and live up to his potential, that could go a long way in exacting some revenge against the Nuggets.
Battle of the Dynamic Duos
This game won’t be decided by Paul George alone, as the floor will be littered with difference-makers on both sides. At the end of the day, this game will be decided by which team’s duo can deliver the better performance. While the Clippers are riding their hopes on Kawhi and PG, they know all too well what Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are capable of.
Leonard and George got off to a hot start against the Lakers in their season Opener while Jokic stuffed the stat sheet against the Kings on Wednesday night. The only star looking for a change of fortunes is Jamal Murray, who had an uncharacteristic 1 for 9 day from the field his last time out. Whichever duo has the better night will help their team go home with a Christmas night win.
Will Denver Miss Jerami Grant?
One of the biggest losses for Denver during the offseason was forward Jerami Grant. He was instrumental to their deep playoff run, especially against the Clippers. While his offensive contributions weren’t exactly noteworthy, his defense and energy were huge for a young and scrappy Denver team.
Now that he has moved on to Detroit, the question will be how Denver replaces his presence on the court and in the locker room. Against the Clippers specifically, expect to see more of Michael Porter Jr. and JaMychal Green on Kawhi and Paul George for stretches as the game goes on.
One thing is for sure. On a day that will feature some of the league’s biggest stars and most exciting teams, this matchup will be the one to watch.