The Los Angeles Clippers are arguably one of the most disappointing franchises in all of sports. After moving to the City of Angeles in 1984, the Clippers have consistently lost up until the team traded for point guard Chris Paul late in the 2011 season. Even then, their team was not able to get past the second round of the playoffs and has yet to reach a conference finals in all their years of existence.
More recently, Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, signed reigning finals MVP at the time Kawhi Leonard with star forward Paul George last offseason; arguably one of the most talented duos in the NBA.
What Goes Wrong for Clippers
Again in Clippers fashion, however, they choked in the playoffs that year by forfeiting a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets. This offseason, Los Angeles decided to promote assistant coach Tyron Lue to replace longtime coach Doc Rivers.
Lue is a respected coach around the league, especially after the miraculous NBA Championship he captured with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 against the Golden State Warriors.
This year more than ever, the Clippers entered the season with enormous pressure. Not only was the way they went out last year embarrassing, but star player Kawhi Leonard will have the option to hit free agency this offseason if things do not turn out the way it did in Toronto for him.
Due to last year’s disappointment and Leonard’s contract situation, the weight of this postseason for the Clippers is at an all-time high.
They started off the playoffs by dropping two straight home games to the underdog sleeper Dallas Mavericks. Miraculously, however, they came back and won the series in seven games. In this round, they are faced with a 2-1 deficit against the one-seeded Utah Jazz.
Despite the Jazz’s seed and record, one could easily argue that the Clippers have more star power and overall talent compared to Utah. Yet, they enter tonight in a seemingly must-win situation.
Clippers in Must-Win Mode
In order for the Clippers to not only save their season but their franchise moving forward, they are going to have to change the fortunes of their entire team from here on out. This starts with their biggest stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, to show up on their home court in Game 4.
The Jazz are definitely a tough out and will make life extremely difficult for Los Angeles like they have all series thus far.
Going into this game I would recommend betting on the Clippers solely because of all the factors I mentioned above. They are the more desperate team, and definitely the more desperate franchise.
Desperation, especially in sports, can either bring out the best in some players and in other times the worst.
I expect coach Tye Lue to be extremely aggressive with his coaching style tonight and encourage his guys to be on top of their games.
If the Clippers fail to win tonight, I expect a large turnover this offseason which would result in their franchise taking significant steps back. Now is their chance more than ever to move on in the playoffs further along than they have ever before.