The LA Clippers really blew a 3-1 lead. Has it sunk in yet? Who, outside of the Denver Nuggets (and their fans and families) thought it was going to happen? I was just as hyped as everyone else for an all-LA Western Conference Finals.
The Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, two of the best two-way wings in the league, and a deep supporting cast that some franchises can only dream of. How could they choke that badly?
Ah, who knows. Maybe it’s 2020 doing its thing.
Here’s a couple of quick thoughts and takeaways from the Clippers’ collapse:
KAWHI LEONARD IS HUMAN AFTER ALL
Like most hoop fans, I assumed he was a robot who loves basketball.
In all seriousness, Kawhi has always been unfazed, unflappable, and untouchable, and he’s oozing with that classic, wily veteran energy. Prior to this series, he answered all the challenges, whether it’s avenging previous losses or playing his heart out in an important game.
Uncharacteristically, he played terrible in a knockout game. He went full Clark Kent when he needed to be Superman, scoring 14 points on a horrific 6-for-22 shooting performance.
“PLAYOFF P” IS A REAL THING… IN A BAD WAY
Paul George is a great player and anyone would be thrilled to have a Paul George on his team. However, you’ll be taking your chances against his occasional shortcomings in the playoffs.
Here’s how “Playoff P” has fared in his last few postseason series:
- Games 2, 3, and 4, 2020 Western Conference First Round vs. the Dallas Mavericks – He averaged 11.3 points per game on a combined 10-for-47 shooting (21.2 FG%).
- Game 6, 2018 Western Conference First Round vs. the Utah Jazz – Facing elimination, he scored six points on 2-for-16 shooting in 45 minutes.
- Game 4, 2017 Eastern Conference First Round vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers – Swept, scored 15 points on 5-for-21 shooting.
- Game 7, 2016 Eastern Conference First Round vs. the Toronto Raptors – Finished the game 2-for-8 with one turnover and a missed game-tying three-pointer.
- Game 7, 2013 Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Miami Heat – Seven points on 2-for-9 shooting.
- Game 6, 2013 Eastern Conference First Round vs. the Atlanta Hawks – They won and clinched the series, but he only had four points on 2-for-10 shooting.
THE SUPPORTING CAST DISAPPEARED
The Clippers have a great supporting cast in Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, and Marcus Morris. Outside of Beverley, all have proven to be credible scoring options, but they all took part in the group disappearing act.
In the Nuggets series, Lou Will averaged 10 PPG on 35.4% shooting, Harrell only had 11 points in Games 5 and 6, Beverley allowed Jamal Murray to average 22.5 PPG, and Morris was 2-for-9 for seven points in the knockout Game 7.
SHOULD DOC RIVERS BE FIRED?
It’s tough but they may need to think about it. Even if we consider all of the Clippers’ bad luck during the Lob City era, we can’t forget that as a coach, Rivers may need to take some blame too. There’s probably a good reason why he’s the only coach to squander three 3-1 leads.
Also, keep in mind that the free agent pool of coaches is very deep, and it can be tempting – Mike D’Antoni, Kenny Atkinson, Nate McMillian, Brett Brown, Alvin Gentry, just to name a few.