Not long after the LA Clippers’ season dropped staggeringly, manager Doc Rivers said the finger may be pointed at him for the team’s failure to meet his huge league expectations.
After the Clippers fully revealed themselves for their third straight game in the 104-89 defeat to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-final at Lake Buena Vista in Game 7, Rivers said the expectations for the title weren’t too heavy. for his team, even though the Clippers failed to achieve what many thought throughout the season would be a Western Final showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We didn’t meet them,” Rivers said of the expectations. “That̵
The Clippers wasted a 3-1 lead in the best of seven series in an epic fashion. They have lost a double-digit lead of 16, 19, and 12 points in their last three games, respectively, as the drought of the franchise’s Western Conference Finals hit 50 years.
Rivers is the only manager in NBA history to lose a 3-1 lead in three playoff series, having done so with the Clippers in the 2015 West Semi-Final against the Houston Rockets and with the Orlando Magic in the first round against the Detroit Pistons. in 2003 .
|Post-season history (20 games minimum)|
This team, however, has been considered a league contender from the time the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard in free agency and mistaken for Paul George.
“We are pissed off,” said Lou Williams, who struggled and shot 4 of 27 from over the series arc. “Simple and clear, we are pissed. We were at 3-1. We had two opportunities to win this series, and we didn’t.”
Williams added: “I think a lot of the problems we ran into, the talent saved us. The chemistry didn’t. In this show, it’s disappointed us.”
Leonard, a two-time NBA Finals MVP who led the Toronto Raptors to a championship last season before signing with LA on free agency, said the Clippers need to improve their basketball IQ and develop chemistry, as teams do in the championship, after their collapse.
“We couldn’t do any shots,” said Leonard, who shot 1 for 11 in the second half. “This is when it comes to team chemistry, knowing what we should be running to get the ball in the spots or just if someone is doubling down or packing the paint, try to get other guys to shoot and we need to know what exact spots we need to be.
“And you know, I just have to carry on and get smarter as a team. Get smarter. Basketball IQ needs to improve.”
In the biggest game of the season, Leonard and George teamed up to shoot 10 of 38, including 4 of 18 from over the arc, for a total of 24 points in Game 7. Once things began to crumble in the second. half for In the third straight game, the Clippers looked completely paralyzed, and the Nuggets overtook them by 50-28 in the final 22 minutes and 50 seconds.
“I never felt comfortable. I just wasn’t comfortable,” Rivers said of the Clippers’ 3-1 Series lead. “I just knew about conditioning, like, we had guys who couldn’t play minutes, and it’s hard, you know. I mean, there were two or three times a night that we started making it work, and a boy had to go out. I mean. , it is what it is. So no, I never felt comfortable. I can tell you in advance. I told our coaches. “
It’s been a struggle all season for the Clippers to find the chemistry. Leonard and George slowly recovered from injuries early in the season. Mixing the two stars with last season’s gritty group of veterans who crossed the line was a chore. Additionally, the Clippers faced constant interruptions from injuries to midseason additions. Once they started taking a look at the bout, the coronavirus pandemic hit and the season was hiatus for more than four months.
Not long after they landed in the reboot bubble for the season, life got in the way and the Clippers were upset by Montrezl Harrell, Williams and Patrick Beverley all have to leave for the funeral of loved ones. The three key RPGs wasted time because they were out of the bubble and had to quarantine. Harrell stood for a month.
“We faced a lot of adversity,” said George, who shot 1 for 7 in the second half on Tuesday. “Rightly so. You know, the boys had to go home for legitimate reasons. We lacked a little time along with injuries in the regular season and inside the bubble.”
George said the organization talked about how the Clippers are built to fight for more this season. But it will take some time for the team to overcome the last stain on the history of a franchise littered with defeat and heartbreak.
“The pressure was evident to live up to the expectations of the title,” said George. “But as a player, I mean, you want it. … It’s not a loophole. The fact is, we didn’t live up to those expectations.
“But I think, internally, we’ve always thought this isn’t a championship or failure year for us. You know, we can only get better the longer we stay together and the closer we are. More chemistry. [the] group, the better. I think that’s really the story of this season’s tape. We just didn’t have enough time together. “