8 Reasons Why The Los Angeles Clippers Failed
8 Reasons Why The Los Angeles Clippers Failed
1. DOC RIVERS IS AN OVERRATED COACH
Doc Rivers is one of the most overrated coaches in NBA history. Similar to some coaches in the league, Rivers thrives with overachievers, and struggles to coach star power.
Due to players over performing under Rivers in “down years”, he’s grown a reputation of being a great coach, but in truth, he’s had some of the most talented teams in NBA history that have underachieved.
Rivers only captured one championship with the services of prime Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen along with a solid supporting cast. Looking back now, that team should have won everything, but they truthfully underachieved with their star power.
Before this season, Rivers also coached the greatest collection of talent in Clippers’ history. Rivers had the services of a prime Chris Paul, a prime Blake Griffin and a prime DeAndre Jordan along with all-time sharpshooter J.J. Reddick at his disposal. Year after year, that Clippers team played robotic, uninspiring basketball cause them to underachieve with what they had.
Fast forward to this season, and many believed the Clippers were a lock to win the title with one of the most talented rosters we have ever seen in league history. But another season, and another underachievement for Rivers.
No coach in NBA History has let more 3-1 leads slip. No coach in NBA history has a worse winning percentage than Doc Rivers in Game 7s, and we can add to that list after tonight.
2. PAUL GEORGE CANNOT BE TRUSTED IN THE PLAYOFFS
Since his early days in Indiana, Paul George has been a horrific playoff performer. From being embarrassed by Joe Ingles in the first round in OKC, to having 10 points in a Game 7 in 38 minutes shooting 4-16, George simply cannot be trusted with everything on the line.
Great players elevate their game when it matters most, but Paul George does the opposite and crumbles when the spotlight shines the brightest.
3. THEY DISRESPECTED THE REGULAR SEASON
The Los Angeles Clippers only have themselves to blame for their prematurely embarrassing exit. They mailed in the regular season, and because of it, they never developed the necessary chemistry, heart or battle tested games together to lean on when everything was on the line.
Say what you will about the regular season, but it still serves a huge purpose, and the Clippers were exposed because of it. It’s very rare you can just “turn it on” when needed, and all those trials tribulations throughout the course of the regular season prepare you for the challenges in the playoffs.
Rivers also allowed Kawhi Leonard to rest any time he wanted, which disrupts the whole team throughout the season. Keeping him as a protected species actually hurts the team, and disregards the regular season.
The Clippers didn’t respect the regular season or the process, and they paid for it.
4. OVERRATED SUPPORTING CAST
The Clippers were rightly seen as the deepest team in the league, but their supporting cast was overrated by many in the media and association. Whilst they are talented, the likes of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell couldn’t consistently deliver when the team needed them.
This is because they are asked to do too much during the regular season. Their roles are bigger than they should be, and the Clippers had arguably too many points coming off their bench which can affect the rhythm and perceived workload of your starters.
Because of this, in the playoffs when you need your superstars to shine the most, they struggle. They’ve become accustomed to the heavy lifting being more evenly distributed throughout the roster. As a result, your role players are then expected to carry too much of a load in the postseason, and this is problematic when defenses are prepared to take away everything you’re good at.
There’s also been an argument that the Clippers may have been too deep. Although I don’t completely agree there can be some truth in having too many options, and trying to juggle minutes throughout the roster.
Doc Rivers is also to blame here, as during the regular season he consistently rested Paul George and Kawhi Leonard at the same time during games and letting the reserves run the show. This is unrealistic for the playoffs, and doing this only adds to the underlying problem that is growing.
You also have to keep in mind players like Lou Williams although great offensively, if they’re not scoring in the playoffs like he wasn’t, it’s becomes hard to leave them on the floor because they’re a defensive liability and opposing teams seek out that matchup. As one of your team’s leading scorers, this becomes a problem.
A case can also be made Patrick Beverley is also overrated on both sides of the ball as a key rotation player. Whilst tenacious in his approach and a pest defensively, he offers little offensively, isn’t a playmaker as a point guard, is undersized against bigger guards and forwards, and is always in foul trouble.
Beverley rarely took the challenge on the opposing team’s best guards in Luka Doncic and Jamal Murray who were both outstanding, subsequently forcing Paul George or Kawhi Leonard to be responsible for them. This devalues him as a key contributor in the postseason.
Collectively, the supporting cast was overrated by most.
5. THEY DON’T HAVE A NATURAL PLAYMAKER
This is an aspect not many people considered when analyzing this team. For as talented as they are, the Clippers do not have a natural playmaker. Although gifted, neither Paul George or Kawhi Leonard are natural playmakers, and Patrick Beverley starts at point guard but isn’t either.
This was evident throughout the entire season and playoffs, as the Clippers struggled with tempo and natural offensive flow. They never had a floor general, and would win games on talent alone.
This is also the reason they gave up huge leads against the Nuggets, as they had no one dictating the pace of the game or ever really playing the game on their terms.
6. GREAT INDIVIDUAL DEFENDERS DON’T EQUAL A GREAT DEFENSIVE TEAM.
Before the season started everyone was proclaiming “the Clippers may be the best defensive team ever”, or “who is going to score on the Clippers?!”. As you can see, the Nuggets and Mavericks actually had quite an easy time scoring against the Clippers.
This is because great individual defenders don’t necessarily equal a great defensive team. There is a hell of a lot more that goes into being a great defensive team, such as communication, chemistry, cohesion, a defensive identity and ability to execute a game plan in the playoffs.
The Clippers never truly developed any of these things, and although showing glimpses here and there, they never transformed into the great defensive team everyone thought they would.
They were never really on a defensive string, and it showed. Again, not developing this during the regular season played a huge part.
It’s also worth keeping in mind Kawhi Leonard isn’t as dominant defensively as he’s shown in the past or is capable of, due to the increased offensive load he has.
In the end, it was quite easy to score on the Clippers. They were nowhere near good enough defensively.
7. KAWHI LEONARD HAS NEVER TRULY CARRIED A TEAM
This is the first time in Kawhi Leonard’s career that he had to TRULY carry a team on his back.
Last season he was phenomenal for the Raptors during their playoff run, but he had a fully functioning and coherent supporting cast that were just as good without him during the regular season. In fact, the combination of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Leonard scored the most combined points for a trio en route to a championship.
Kawhi now finally understands what it’s like to carry the majority of the load when it matters most, and in truth, he also undelivered in that respect.
Despite being excellent in the Mavericks series and putting up great offensive numbers, Kawhi never truly had signature performances or monster games on either side of the ball. It was clear he was the Clippers best player, but he wasn’t dominant in a way they needed him to be with their backs against the wall.
Lastly, when they needed him the most he was frankly terrible in Game 7. With just 14 points in 43 minutes shooting just 4/22 from the field. He showed no urgency, no fight and didn’t go down swinging.
Some may disagree, but you can make a case Kawhi may have one of the more overrated playoff resumes in NBA history. He was drafted into a dynasty, won a Finals MVP just because he guarded LeBron James. He the ran into a Golden State Warriors team that was completed decimated by injury in last season’s Finals.
No one is denying his greatness, and he is phenomenal, but Kawhi’s stock was far too high after last season.
Again, we must hold him to the same standard.
8. THEY ALWAYS HAD ONE EYE ON THE LAKERS
Throughout the entire season, the Clippers were so busy planning for the Lakers, they neglected fixing and maximizing their own team.
It got to the point where the Clippers were bringing in players such as Reggie Jackson to their roster, just so the Lakers wouldn’t sign him.
This type of approach is dangerous, because despite constructing your team to matchup with the Lakers, they weren’t good enough to even get there.
They were stubborn, and this approach was their undoing as they always had a hole in their roster with no genuine size and rim protection, and Nikola Jokic absolutely destroyed them.
All in all the Los Angeles Clippers may be the most disappointing team in NBA history, and they have no one to blame but themselves.