1. The trouble with hitting the wall at full-speed? It hurts, baby. For the first quarter and change, the Nuggets seemed to feed off their adrenaline from a dramatic Game 7 win over Utah, despite a two-night turnaround. Midway through the second period, that juice was completely drained. With the game tied at 36-36, the Clippers went on an 18-7 run over the next five minutes, and that was all she wrote. Game 1 couldn’t end fast enough.
2. Joker’s defense? Indefensible. The Clippers worked over Big Honey for the first two quarters, exposing the Nuggets center’s slow rotations and brain camps, attacking the basket with impunity. It got worse for Denver fans at halftime, when TNT guest analyst Draymond Green took a flamethrower to Nikola Jokic’s corpse as he broke down the first-half defensive miscues. Much as we love the Joker, against elite teams, the book is out. And it ain’t a pretty read.
3. Kawhi was the Nuggets’ worst enemy. No. 2? The Nuggets themselves. As poor as the Nuggets looked in the paint, turnovers — forced and unforced — contributed to Los Angeles running away with things in the second quarter of Game 1. The Clips had only eight fast-break points through the first three quarters, but it felt like it was twice that.