For most of the 2019-20 NBA season, many people either had the LA Clippers or the LA Lakers as their favorites to win the NBA championship, and pretty much everyone had them both reaching the Western Conference Finals. LeBron James and the Lakers ultimately made it to the Western Conference Finals before going on to win the championship in the NBA Finals over the Miami Heat. The Clippers, on the other hand, blew a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals. LeBron James recently had strong comments about the Clippers and that blown series lead.
The LA Clippers had a talented team in 2019-20
The 2018-19 LA Clippers didn’t have any superstars on their team, but they took the Kevin Durant-led Golden State Warriors to six games in the First Round of the Western Conference playoffs. In 2019-20, though, the Clippers added reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The Clippers ultimately had a lot of success, too. They went 49-23 in 2019-20 and finished second in the Western Conference. They ultimately had all the success, of course, because of Leonard and George. Leonard averaged 27.1 points per game and 7.1 rebounds, while Paul George averaged 21.5 points per game and 5.7 rebounds.
They also had other extremely talented players, though, as Montrezl Harrell — who won Sixth Man of the Year — and Lou Williams both scored over 18 points per game.
All of that talent on that roster led to the Clippers becoming the favorites, for many, to win the NBA championship. However, they ultimately failed to reach expectations.
They blew a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets
The Clippers ultimately struggled in the First Round of the playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks, as Dallas — the No. 7 seed — took them to six games. George really struggled, as he scored 18.5 points per game and only shot 35.8% from the field, as well as 27.5% from 3-point range.
They, however, won the series and moved on to the Western Conference Semifinals against the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers then led 3-1 through four games, but the Nuggets came back and shocked them, winning in seven games to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Other than Leonard and George, no Clippers player averaged more than 11.7 points per game in the series, which was one big reason why the team lost.
Additionally, some of the players on that Clippers team seemed very confident that they would go deep into the playoffs, which led to many jokes about the team going around the internet. Like many NBA fans, though, LeBron James also couldn’t believe it when they lost the series.
LeBron James sends out a strong message about the LA Clippers
James and the LA Lakers ultimately defeated the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. They then won the championship by beating the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. However, many people expected the Lakers to have to play the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals. It appears that James did as well.
“All the s***-talking that they were doing all year – and exclude Paul and exclude Kawhi,” James recently said on the Road Trippin’ podcast, per Bleacher Report. “Even exclude [Montrezl]. Obviously, we know who the s***-talkers was.”
James did admit that Montrezl Harrell — who now plays for the Lakers — was probably doing some of the talking, too, because he’s loyal. However, James also said this.
“They put themselves in a position to get what they’ve been talking s*** about all year, and I just couldn’t fathom the part or come to the realization that they did not seek that opportunity when it was right there,” James said.
He continued: “Just seeing the team that they had, they were built for that, I believe. They was coached for that, I believe. Obviously, they’ve got our championship head coach on their bench in [Tyronn] Lue. I just did not see them losing just like everybody else in the basketball sports world did not see them losing that series.”
LeBron James’ message ultimately says a couple of things: no one, including him, expected the Clippers to lose. The Clippers also shouldn’t have lost because of the roster and coaches they had.
We’ll see how the team responds this upcoming season.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference