Curse of the Los Angeles Clippers Strikes Again!!

Gabriel Heater, Sports Editor

On September 15, the Nuggets stunned the entire NBA community by delivering a comeback from a 3-1 deficit against this season’s most anticipated team as they eliminated the Clippers in game seven of the western semi-conference finals. The curse of the Clippers organization has once struck again.


It is no surprise that the two Clippers superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul Georges’ inefficient offensive presence during game seven had a primary role in the Nuggets coming back from a 3-1 deficit. This was an achievement that is rarely ever seen which is why the Nuggets playoff run can be deemed as historic as they pulled it off twice in the playoffs so far. As both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard seemed to be shooting on a closed rim as well as blowing makeable lay-ups, their playoff run had come to an end. This, however, wasn’t the only factor in the Nuggets’ victory throughout the series. Both Kawhi and Paul George had their share of great games as at least one Clipper superstar dominated games one, three, and four of the series leading to a Clipper win.


One man can’t create a championship-contending team, and in this case, not even two superstars will cut it.


Many factors led to the Clipper’s elimination. One of them would have to be the lack of flexibility in the Clippers game plan. 


Although the Clippers had a stacked roster with big names such as Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Lou Will the Clippers were missing a vital piece to their offense. The Clippers lacked a dedicated point guard or point forward to orchestrate the offense. Every team that won the NBA championship in the past decade has always had an elite point guard or a dedicated playmaker on the court to lead the charge in order to win games. Think of Kyrie, LeBron, Curry, Tony Parker, Derrick Fisher, and Jason Kidd. These players who were not only elite but conducted the flow of the team’s offense and defense which are keys to championships.


Offense alone, especially in this league, will never lead a team to victory. Defense, however, wins championships.


When you look at the Clippers roster and see names such as Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Patrick Beverly, you would think that this team would be a defensive powerhouse. Looking at the western conference semifinals, however, the Clippers defense was severely flawed against the Nuggets. It seemed as if the Clippers had no answer to stop Jokic and Murray. Murray, who led the offensive charge abused the Clippers defense on the pick-and-roll, which either led to an open mid-range jumper/lay-up for Murray or an open pick-and-pop 3 from Jokic. As the Clippers started double-teaming this led to open players for the Nuggets which made the Clippers pay. Another key element to the Nuggets offense is the beautiful court vision by Jokic as it is rare to see a big man with such talent in the distribution of the ball.

It is hard to swallow the fact that Kawhi just isn’t as good a defender as he was in San Antonio under Coach Greg Popovich.  He used Kawhi to the limits of his defensive potential as he had less weight on his offensive load so he could dominate defensively. In Toronto, Kawhi did not have to be as defensively active as the Raptors were an excellent team defensively even without Kawhi. This is because the Spurs and Raptors both had excellent team chemistry while implementing Kawhi due to the veterans in their roster. The Clippers, however, are a different story. Since Kawhi and George have to carry the offensive load this makes it more difficult for them to play lockdown defense as well. Not to mention that the Clippers do not have a reliable rim protector and also strained their defense as Jamal Murray could score in the paint with ease due to his explosiveness.


The Clippers coach Doc Rivers also added a factor in which the Clippers were eliminated. It is a no brainier that Doc Rivers is not your ideal coach, especially in the playoffs as he is known for his questionable decision making from the 2010s Lob City Clippers with the big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan as they never made it to the conference finals. This can also be said today as Doc Rivers just flat out looked confused. He was slow to adjustments and when he did adjust the game plan it ultimately backfired. Double-teaming Jokic would be questionable considering that the Clippers were lacking in both perimeters and paint defense in the first place. Although this strategy could work when executed on certain teams, this late adjustment just led to a guaranteed open man on the Nuggets which almost always ended up in an easy bucket.


After this shocking turnout, it is not far out to say that the Clippers team is falling apart. As Doc Rivers was recently fired, animosity between players, and the numerous free agents looking for a way out of the Clippers organization is in a state of panic. Without some major changes to the Clippers roster, coaching, and chemistry, it’s safe to say that the Clippers curse won’t be lifted anytime soon.