The Clippers Are Still The Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers definitely lived up the name on the front of their jerseys.
In one if the biggest choke jobs in sports history, the Denver Nuggets, led by Jamal Murray's 40 points, overcame a 3-1 deficit to stun the Clippers 104-89 in game 7 to advance to the West Finals against the Lakers. Denver also became the first team to win two consecutive series after being down 3-1.
From the moment Kawhi Leonard and Paul George stepped into the locker room, the Clippers were the hands down favorites to not only win a title but to dethrone the Lakers as the kings of LA. Regardless of the outcome, 1 championship doesn't compare to 16 championships and the Clippers are still little brothers to the Lakers.
This team was full of hype and full of fluff the entire season. They struggled at times in every aspect from offense, defense, behind the scenes drama, and chemistry issues that stemmed from load managing their star players. They showed signs early that this could be a match made in hell, and still the fans and the media chose to ignore it because King Kawhi could take them to the promised land regardless.
in the first round they let a hobbled Luka Doncic take them to 6 games with a bad ankle and without Kristaps Porzingis, and they blew a 3-1 series lead against the Nuggets who didn't have their full roster available. Doc Rivers was outcoached and the Clippers were outnumbered and they failed to make any kind of adjustments on either side of the floor.
in game 7, the Clippers shrank like a turtle in it's shell and simply disappeared. They had a 12 point lead going into the 2nd quarter and Denver cut it to 2 going into halftime, where the Clippers fell apart again in the 3rd quarter. Kawhi Leonard finished with 14 points and shot 6-22 from the field, while his running mate Paul George vanished once again with 10 points off of 4-16 shooting. In the 2nd half the two Clippers saviors had a combined 5 points and shot a combined 2-17 from the field, that's flat out disgusting.
Those are not winning numbers for a team that almost everyone was ready to hand over the trophy to. Kawhi Leonard going to LA proved that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. He wanted his own team, but in actuality he had one all along in Toronto.
Kawhi had it all in Toronto. He had a new championship ring, he had fame, an entire country at his feet that was willing to give him the world, he had a foster full of established and seasoned veterans, and he had one of the best young coaches in the NBA with Nick Nurse. But that wasn't good enough.
He chose not to join a superteam with LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Lakers, but he instead formed his own superteam with Paul George? Hypocrisy at it's best.
The Clippers proved one thing, they are who they are. It doesn't matter how many stars you add to the roster, the Clippers are still the Clippers. You can change the frame but the picture remains the same. Paul George said in his postgame interview that this wasn't a "championship or bust" season, but he's wrong. This wasn't a long term situation for the Clippers, this was a "win now" situation. Kawhi Leonard can opt out after the 2021 season, and the Clippers don't have the cap space flexibility or the draft picks (They traded them all away for Paul George) to make improvements. The Clippers swung for the fences and missed.
Losing in the playoffs after one season isn't the end of the world and the Clippers can try to run it back next season. But with Doc Rivers job possibly in jeopardy, and with Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, and Reggie Jackson all set to become free agents, it's going to be a long offseason.