The Clippers were built for the playoffs. The Nuggets appeared to be more of a regular-season team.
And the Clippers were still better than the Nuggets in the regular season.
This second-round series was a mismatch on paper. L.A. (-1000) opened as huge favorite over Denver (+550). Odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.
But the Nuggets enter Game 7 tonight with a chance to pull an extraordinary upset.
Based on averaging the money line for both teams, Denver’s implied odds of winning the series were just 12%.
That’d be the fifth-longest odds overcome in the Sports Odds History database, which has all series since 2001 and some series since 1969.
Here are the biggest upsets on record by this method:
Most of series above Nuggets-Clippers were classics – Denver becoming the first No. 8 seed to upset a No. 1 seed (SuperSonics) in 1994, the “We Believe” Warriors toppling the Mavericks in 2007 and Golden State shockingly sweeping the Jazz in 1989. The 76ers also beat the Bulls in 2012 after Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah got hurt.
Merely getting this far is impressive for the Nuggets. They entered the series as huge underdogs, fell behind 3-1, trailed by 15 in the second half of Game 5 and trailed by by 19 in the second half of Game 6.
Only eight teams entered a series with longer odds and won even three games.
Teams that won the series are blue. Teams that lost the series are gold. This series is red:
Of course, the Nuggets don’t want to settle for pushing the Clippers hard then faltering. Denver wants to win the series. Then the next one. Then the next one. The Nuggets just aren’t viewed as that type of threat.
The Clippers will probably win Game 7. They’re 7.5-point favorites. If they win, this series will become a footnote. The overwhelming favorite winning, even if it’s more difficult than expected, isn’t a major event. Celtics-Hawks in 2008 just doesn’t resonate.
But if Denver wins? This will go down as an upset for the ages.