By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com
Regardless of the two teams sharing a building for the past 20 seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers have never met in an NBA Playoff series. Oddly enough neither team has been in championship contention at the same time during that period. The last time this had a chance of happening was in 2006 when the Clippers Finished 2nd in the Western Conference with a record of 47-35 and the Lakers finished 3rd in the West with a record of 48-35, both teams ended losing to the Steve Nash lead Phoenix Suns, the Lakers in the first round and the Clippers in the second round.
The Laker being led by 4-time league MVP and 3-time Champion LeBron James and 7-time All-Star and 3-time Block Champ Anthony Davis. While the Clippers signed defending Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Paul George 6-time All-Star last summer. These two teams were set up to collide in a battle of Los Angeles with an NBA Finals birth in the line.
Well as fate would have it, as the Lakers dispatched the Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets, in 5 games each. While the Clippers struggled a bit in the first round against the youthful Dallas Mavericks and were then taken to a seventh game buy the #2 seeded Denver Nuggets.
Looking back at how this seemingly great team fizzled out in the playoffs, I have listed multiple reasons why we all should’ve seen this Clippers colossal collapse coming;
Advanced stats told us In Games 5 & 6 with Nikola Jokic and Montrezl Harrell on the court at the same time (19 total mins) the Nuggets were plus 40. Meaning this was a clear advantage for the Nuggets made even more glaring by the fact that the Clippers relied on scoring from Harrell and Lou Williams to beat their opponents!
Leadership; there were no verbal leaders on the team! Their best player leads by example and does not show emotion in an emotional game. Who is there to get on Kawhi and PG when needed, that person wasn’t on the team, or wasn’t there long enough to do so!
A reoccurring theme for this team all season has been its lack of continuity. Whether it was because of “load management” (the resting of players for preventive maintenance purposes) or lingering injuries, or various family reasons, either way, this team did not have enough time to together.
Inexcusable this is the 3rd time a Doc Rivers coached team has given up a 3-1 lead in the playoffs. In 2002 the Tracy McGrady led Orlando Magic, 2015 with the Lob City Clippers, and these 2020 Kawhi Leonard and Paul George led Clippers. In all fairness, neither team was the favorite as they weren’t seeded any higher than a 3rd seed this recent loss was most unforgiving as they were supposedly Championship contenders.
Lastly, I’ve said for 2 seasons now they need a legit pass-first point guard! They need someone to get Kawhi and PG easy buckets. Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, or Landry Shamet isn’t the answer to that issue. I’ve been told by many of my colleagues who cover the Clippers Kawhi and Paul are could enough to get each other shots, my thinking is that they have to work too hard to create each other shots!
We shall see what changes or adjustments they make to this team in the offseason, after being embarrassed and humiliated we will also see what type of resolve these guys have individually and have a team. Let me know your thoughts on the Clippers and what you’d expect to see in the coming months in preparation for next season. Send all suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us at @whatsgoodnsport.