After the Clippers completely opened up 104–89 for a third straight game, they lost to the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals in Buenos Vista, Florida, River said, regardless of the title for his team. The expectations were not very heavy. The Clippers’ arrival was cut short by the thought that there would be a West Finals match with the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the season.
“We didn’t meet them,” Rivers said of the expectations. “That’s the bottom line. I’m the coach, and I’ll take any blame for it. But we didn’t live up to our expectations, clearly, because even if I were still playing, in my opinion, we would still be playing. Live. ”
The Clippers took a 3–1 lead in the seven best series in epic fashion. They lost double digits by 16, 19 and 12 points respectively in the last three games as the franchise’s Western Conference finals hit a 50-year drought.
Rivers is the only coach in NBA history to have a 3–1 lead in three playoff series, doing so in 2015 against the Houston Rockets with the Clippers in the West Indies and in 2003 against the Detroit Pistons in the first round with the Orlando Magic Was. .
The team, though considered a championship contender from the time the Clippers signed Qui Leonard in free agency, traded for Paul George.
“We’re annoyed,” said Lou Williams, who struggled and took 4-shots for 27 from beyond the arc in the series. “Simple and plain, we’re angry. We were up 3-1. We had two chances to win this series, and we didn’t.”
Williams said: “I think a lot of the talent on the issues we ran out of did us out. Chemistry didn’t do it. In this series, it failed us.”
Leonard, a two-time NBA Finals MVP who led for a championship last season before signing with L.A. in free agency in Toronto, said the Clippers would have to improve their basketball IQ and develop chemistry. Will, like championship teams did after their fall.
“We just couldn’t make any shots,” said Leonard, who scored 11 in the second half. “When it comes to team chemistry, knowing what we need to run to get the ball in the spots or just if someone’s If doubling up or they’re packing paint, try to make other people make shots, and we know what the exact spots are that we should be.
“And you know, just gotta catch up and get smarter as a team. Get smarter. Basketball IQ’s got better.”
In the biggest game of the season, Leonard and George combined for shooting 10 to 38, including 18 for 4 from beyond the arc, for a total of 24 points in Game 7. Once things didn’t start for the second half in the third straight game, the Clippers looked completely crippled, and the Nuggets outscored them 50-28 in the final 22 minutes, 50 seconds.
“I was never comfortable. I just wasn’t,” Rivers said of the Clippers’ 3–1 series lead. “I just knew conditioning-wise, like, we had people who just couldn’t play minutes, and that’s tough, you know. I mean there were two or three times a night where we actually got it. Were starting, and a man had to come out. I mean, this is what it is. So no, I was never comfortable. I can tell you I’m in the front. I told my coaches. ”
It has been a struggle throughout the season for the Clippers to find chemistry. Leonard and George slowly worked their way up from injuries coming into the season. The previous season pitted two stars with a group of veterans who were much happier. In addition, the Clippers deal with frequent disruptions from injuries to the Middenson joint. Once they started showing signs of coming together, the coronovirus epidemic hit, and the season stayed for more than four months.
Long after the season came to the bubble for a restart, life did not get in the way, and the Clippers were interrupted by Monterezal Harel, Williams, and Patrick Beverley and all left for funerals for loved ones. The three leading players missed each time because they were out of the bubble and had to get out. Harel was off the floor for a month.
“We deal with a lot of adversity,” said George, who shot 1-for-7 on Tuesday in the second half. “Well. You know, people had to go home for the right reasons. We lost a lot of time in regular sessions and living together with injuries inside the bubble.”
George said the organization has talked about how the Clippers are selected for more than this season. But due to defeat and heartbreak, it will take some time for the team to get the latest stain on the history of a franchise.
“It was a clear pressure to meet the title expectations,” George said. “But as a player, I mean, you want that. … It’s not a cop. The fact of the matter is that we didn’t live up to that expectation.”
“But I think, internally, we’ve always felt that this is not a championship-or-bust year for us. You know, we can only make it better that we stay together and the more we have one- Be around the other. For more chemistry [the] The better the group. I think that’s actually the story of this season’s tape. We did not have enough time. ”