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Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks face elimination games if NBA playoffs resume on Thursday

Watch Nuggets @ Jazz Gm 6 live on Sky Sports Arena on Thursday at 9pm, followed by Clippers @ Mavericks Gm 6 in the early hours of Friday morning (2am), also on Arena

Luka Doncic is guarded by Kawhi Leonard in Game 2
Image: Luka Doncic is guarded by Kawhi Leonard in Game 2

If the NBA playoffs resume on Thursday night, the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks will face elimination games.

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The Nuggets have already fought off elimination once and if their series with the Utah Jazz resumes - Game 6 is scheduled for 9pm on Thursday night (live on Sky Sports Arena) though that now seems questionable - they will have to do it again.

So will the Dallas Mavericks, who are down 3-2 to the LA Clippers. Their Game 6 is scheduled for the early hours of Friday morning (2am). It will also be shown live on Sky Sports Arena if it goes ahead.

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Matt Winer rounds up the unprecedented events inside the NBA bubble following the players' decision not to play in protest against the police shooting of Jacob Blake

Players boycotted Wednesday's three scheduled games in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man in Wisconsin who was shot in the back seven times by police while his three children looked on. Players met on Wednesday night to determine next steps and will meet again on Thursday at 4pm (UK time).

The Nuggets rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to beat Utah in Game 5 on Tuesday and extend that series, while the Clippers got the biggest win in their playoff history - a 43-point romp over Dallas to take a 3-2 lead in that match-up, two nights after Luka Doncic made a game-winning, buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 4.

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"Game 4 is the ultimate high and (Game 5) is the ultimate low," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Right now, our job is to bounce back. We have got a resilient group. We have been very good at bouncing back after difficult losses all year and this is going to be a challenging one - but we've got no choice."

In a most abnormal playoffs, Utah's Jordan Clarkson is trying to think back to normal times.

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Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets drives to the basket against the Utah Jazz during Round One, Game Five of the NBA Playoffs on August 25, 2020 at The Field House in Orlando, Florida. 3:26
Highlights of Game 5 of the first round playoff series between the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets

If this were any other year, if the bubble didn't exist and a pandemic wasn't happening, Clarkson pointed out that the Jazz would be in a rather enjoyable position right now. They would be going home for Game 6, with a chance to close out a first-round series in Salt Lake City.

"That's all that it's about, getting the next one," Clarkson said.

There is a Game 1 set on Thursday as well, with the Eastern Conference semi-final series between the Boston Celtics and reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors scheduled to begin. The Celtics and Raptors were discussing boycotting their game before Wednesday's games were halted.

Nuggets @ Jazz Game 6 | Sky Sports Arena | Thursday 9pm

The pressure is on Utah. Denver were on the cusp of elimination and rallied to force Game 6. If the Jazz let this get to a Game 7, the Nuggets' spirits will likely get lifted even higher.

Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets reacts to play during Round One, Game Five of the NBA Playoffs on August 25, 2020 at The Field House in Orlando, Florida. 2:01
Jamal Murray scored 42 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Denver Nuggets beat the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the first round playoff series

The Jazz led 71-56 with 9:44 left in the third quarter of Game 5 and were outscored 61-36 the rest of the way. Jamal Murray had 33 of his 42 points in that span for Denver, nearly matching the entire Utah scoring output by himself. He has 92 points and zero turnovers in his last two games.

Keep an eye on the energy levels of Murray and Nikola Jokic. Denver couldn't afford to take them off the floor in the second half of Game 5, and it's reasonable to think their rest breaks will be relatively short and few in Game 6.

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Gary Harris and Will Barton have yet to play in the series for Denver and there was no reason on Wednesday to think that will change in Game 6.

Clippers @ Mavericks Game 6 | Sky Sports Arena | 2am

This series is getting heated, especially with the Mavericks wondering if Doncic has been targeted too aggressively by the Clippers. Officiating games is already difficult and revved-up emotions in Game 6 could make that task even tougher.

Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets reacts to play during Round One, Game Five of the NBA Playoffs on August 25, 2020 at The Field House in Orlando, Florida. 2:01
Jamal Murray scored 42 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Denver Nuggets beat the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the first round playoff series

Clippers forward Marcus Morris bristled at the notion that he tried to deliberately hurt Doncic, who has been playing on a bad left ankle. Morris stepped on Doncic's ankle in Game 5 and denied that it was intentional. "I actually apologised right when it happened," Morris said.

Doncic was clearly labouring at times in Game 5, and now will play in an elimination game for the first time in his NBA career. He has been spectacular in Dallas' two wins in this series and will likely need to be again if the Mavs are to force a Game 7.

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Patrick Beverley (left calf) hasn't played since Game 1 of the series for the Clippers. Dallas' Kristaps Porzingis (right knee) is listed as questionable, but the Mavericks are not optimistic about his chances.

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