The Collapse of the Los Angeles Clippers

The Collapse of the Los Angeles Clippers

Anthony Bearese, Staff Writer

The owner of the Clippers, Steve Ballmer, had championship visions when inquiring the team back in 2014.  The former chief executive at Microsoft’s first couple years were full of success as they made the playoffs five out of his six years of as owner of the Clippers; however, they never went past the second round. This year was the year the Clippers were that they were going to take the next step, and they did by making  a blockbuster trade.  They selected all star, Paul George, for five first round draft picks in the upcoming years to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It doesn’t stop there.  To top it off they signed finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, to a three year 103 million dollar contract with a the third year being a player option.  This was going to be the year that the Clippers weren’t going to be the little brother to the Lakers any more.  They would prove everyone wrong and go win a championship. They had a talented hungry roster willing to go all the way.  They looked great throughout the regular season, but then on March 11th, 2020 the sports world was at a halt when Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the NBA season was suspended.

When the NBA season resumed in Orlando, Florida, the Clippers looked good by winning five of their last eight games of the regular season.  Then the playoffs tipped off and the Clippers faced the eight seed Dallas Mavericks with future superstar Luka Doncic and the unicorn that is Kristaps Porzingis. The Clippers won the series 4-2 and beat them pretty easily.

Some drama occurred with that series when Montrezl Harrell called Luka Doncic a slur,  and Luka responded by hitting a game winner to make the series 2-2. Besides that the Clippers handled themselves and advanced to play the third seed Denver Nuggets. That’s when the real work started. Denver struggled going down 3-1 in the series and the Clippers were ready to play the Lakers in the western conference finals. Denver’s road so far in the playoffs has been wild as they beat the Utah Jazz in seven games they know how stay mentally strong and still be in a series no matter what. The Clippers were up 3-1, but everyone was struggling.  Kawhi Leonard was missing his shots, the bench wasn’t showing up, and Paul George by far was the biggest disappointment in the playoffs for the Clippers as Playoff P turned in to Pandemic P real quick.

The Nuggets wanted it more and rallied up when back 3-1  even through they were less talented team.  As the saying goes, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.  This Clippers roster had all the talent in the world, but when they needed to close out the series they got comfortable.  Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic stepped up and did their jobs.  They did what they needed to do to secure winning the series.  Either it was great play making Jokic and getting rebounds or it was Murray dropping 40 points in game seven on great efficiency on one of the best defensive teams in the NBA on the Clippers.

The Clippers downfall in the series was players missing shots and them having horrible efficiency and coaching when it was crunch time. Their offensive schemes were too simple.  Their plan was pass the ball to Kawi and PG and get out of the way.  That was it.  They didn’t have any screens or pick and rolls to get shooters open. We know that the NBA is a superstar league, but when all you do is give your superstars the ball it makes it pretty easy to draw up a game plan. As elite players they know that they are going to be double teamed often and that leaves shooters open.  They should have had the trust in their teammates to pass the ball to them and drain a shot. That’s how you win championships,  by having trust in one another to step up when you need to and never get comfortable.  Denver deserved to win.  They wanted it more had a great game plan and they trusted one another to step up in the series.

On September 28, 2020, while the Heat and Lakers were set up to play in the finals, news breaks that Doc Rivers, the coach of the Clippers, was fired.  Now LA will have to find an new coach too run this team. They’ve got some solid candidates for the job such as Ty Lue as he coached the Cavs and helped them overcome a 3-1 lead in the finals to the warriors and win a chip for Cleveland. He  should be on the top of the Clippers because he knows how to handle stars.  He coached Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love: all of them stars in their own right. Doc Rivers didn’t remain jobless for too long as he was picked up by the Philadelphia 76ers.  Hopefully he can get the best out of their two superstars, Joel Embied and Ben Simmons. It might be a new era in Philly sooner than later.

For the Clippers, this is a very crucial off season.  Do they run it back wit the roster they have and hire Ty Lue?  Fans will see, but for now they have to watch their big brother in the Lakers about to win another tittle as the Clippers have to watch them from home once again.