Kawhi Leonard was supposed to make sure this didn’t happen but even the postseason savant couldn’t keep the Clippers from once again breaking the hearts of their long suffering fans. For whatever reason, the Lakers and Clippers just can’t get it together so that they play each other in the postseason. This one seemed primed but it won’t happen this summer.
Any long time Clipper fan will tell you that this failure wasn’t new. With Lob City, a team led by a player every bit the equal of Kawhi Leonard in Chris Paul the Clippers blew a similar 3 – 1 game lead in the Western Semifinals to Houston in 2015. The difference this time though was that the Clippers had a 3 – 1 game lead and a 20 point lead in game five and they couldn’t close it out. By the time the seven games were in the bank, the Nuggets clearly looked like the better team.
My own personal series defeat was in 2006, when the Clippers were supposed to meet the Lakers in the Western Semifnals, but the Lakers blew a 3 – 1 game series lead to the Suns. The Clippers played the Suns instead and that series is the series I’ll always regret. That team was my favorite team, led by Sam Cassel and they lost because Vinny Del Negro made one of the worst late in game decisions any coach has every made.
I feel bad for other Clipper fans, as instead of quieting the cacophony of noise that Clipper fans have to endure from entitled Laker fans, it will be a long summer and no answer can be made until next summer. Bubble basketball was fun but the Clippers never played in the bubble like they played before Covid-19. 6th man of the year Montrezl Harrell lost his Grandmother to COVID and simply wasn’t the same player. That may have been because he was played different, or it may have been a hangover from losing the woman who raised him. I don’t know, but the man who created havoc when he entered the game was a negative in just about every game he played in the postseason. Lou Williams didn’t hit any big shots and was never a factor in any of the fourth quarters. Paul George is considered one of the top 10 players in the NBA, we rarely saw that player. If the short Clipper window with Kawhi/PG13 end up with nothing, not even a Western Conference Title, that paring of Kawhi/PG13 for immediate success instead of building with SGA and the bazillion number one picks, and all of Ballmers money may look bad at this time next summer. If Kawhi leaves next summer after testing the waters for two years and saying no thanks, it could get really ugly since they mortgaged the future for those two years.
This tweet probably says it all:
The Clippers traded more first round picks (5) for Paul George than field goals he had tonight (4).— UnwrittenRules (@UnwrittenRul3s) September 16, 2020
The fact is, this Clipper team wasn’t much fun to root for compared to the team that gave the Warriors all they could handle last summer. That team had zero expectations and leapfrogged them all. This team had title expectations, and not only couldn’t finish the second lap, they looked like someone had taken the heart right of them. If they were playing harder than the Nuggets, it didn’t look like it. Pat Beverly the voice/noise/heart of the 2018/2019 Clippers was MIA. Bluster doesn’t wear so well when you aren’t playing well.
I don’t know what next year will bring us, but right now the Clippers are in Dodger territory. Whatever you do during the regular season won’t mean much until we see what you can do in the postseason.
The Clippers were the Title favorites entering the season and are already out of the playoffs. The Dodgers entered 2020 as the title favorites and in a short 13 days, will need to show that the best team in the regular season can make a long run in Sept/Oct. There will be no trash banging in their way, just baseball.
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