Clippers

Perpetual Injuries Prevent Clippers From Truly Competing

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The Los Angeles Clippers’ season has come to an unfortunate end.

They produced a stellar effort while facing adversity but only had one win to show for it. From the amazing highs of Game 1 to the lows associated with the news of Kawhi Leonard‘s absence, Clippers fans have been through it all.

THE HIGHS OF GAME ONE

The Clippers were already one man down entering the series and not one person from ESPN’s experts picked them to win the series.

In spite of this, the Clippers suited up ready to take on the challenge.

It was Kawhi’s first postseason game since 2021, and he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.

The Klaw was scoring at will from everywhere on the court. He broke out awkward-looking push-shots from the free-throw-line area, but even those found their way into the basket. It was a rare sight for his jumper to hit the rim, and if it did, it was followed by a ludicrous bounce that only Kawhi could get.

The Suns did their best to stop him, and even when resorting to fouling, they had little success.

https://twitter.com/LAClippers/status/1647786818371452929?s=20

Kawhi didn’t come at the Suns alone— even Batman needs his Robin.

Westbrook was shot out of a cannon to start the game and never slowed down. Russ could not get his shot to fall, however, which led to his exit from the lineup rather early, leaving Clipper fans to wonder how much Russ would play this game.

In spite of a poor shooting night, Westbrook made winning play after winning play to keep himself on the court. His defensive effort was intense. He made miraculous plays from behind, either poking the ball out of the opposition’s hands or swatting it into the crowd.

All of his heart and determination culminated in a game-winning block on Devin Booker. Russ followed up this spectacular play by throwing the ball off Booker, ensuring the Clippers got possession and most importantly the win.

Stealing the first game on the road without Paul George was massive. The Clippers had set themselves up well for this series.

A GRITTY GAME TWO PERFORMANCE

The Clippers continued to fight hard in Game 2. Kawhi was excellent yet again and Russ had a much improved shooting night. Both were too much to handle for Phoenix, no matter the defenders they put on them.

They were able to get to their spots at will leading to many high-quality looks for their teammates. Unfortunately, most of the supporting cast could not capitalize on the opportunity. Outside of Kawhi and Russ, the rest of the Clippers shot 27% from three, with only Eric Gordon and Terance Mann connecting on their triples.

Clippers’ own issues aside, Devin Booker was on a mission. He torched the Clippers who decided to drop Zubac back in an attempt to contain Booker’s drives to the rim while running him off the three-point line.

Nevertheless, Booker found his spots in the mid-range and hit his shots. Every following shot, Zubac would inch closer towards the 26-year-old in an attempt to contest.

But it didn’t matter. Booker finished with 38 points leading his team to their first win of the postseason.

With the series headed back to L.A. tied at one a piece, the Clips were still in a good spot.

HEARTBREAK AND GAME THREE

On April 19, Clippers fans went to sleep excited for the series to return home the following night. The next afternoon, however, the news dropped that Kawhi would not be playing.

Leaving many to wonder “Why us?” again

Game 3 went as one would imagine a shorthanded Clips game would go. Booker was on fire yet again taking advantage of the Clippers sending bodies at Kevin Durant in attempt to stifle his offensive game.

All seemed to be lost until Norman Powell hit a miraculous three-pointer resulting in a four-point play, putting the Clippers only down five.

With 31 seconds to go, the Clippers fouled Chris Paul, sending him to the line. Somehow Paul could not get either free throw to fall, leaving a sliver of hope for LAC. Off the miss, Westbrook sprinted down the floor and drops it off for a wide-open Bones Hyland three, that goes in and out.

The Clippers lose again in heartbreaking fashion.

A WESTBROOK RENAISSANCE

The feelings associated with a heartbreaking loss were magnified by the news that Kawhi would also miss Game 4.

With his team on the verge of going down three to one and his back against the wall, Westbrook came ready to play.

The team was off to a great start in the first half— especially locked in on defense. Neither team was shooting great but the stars showed up to play. Leading to the underdog Clippers only trailing by one at halftime.

In the second half, Westbrook had a one-man army performance that could rival Keanu Reaves.

John Wick or Neo, take your pick.

Westbrook willed his way to the rim and finished through anything. One dunk was so ferocious it felt like it was 2017 again. On top of the electrifying finishes, his jumper was money. No matter where Russ was on the court, the ball was going in the hoop.

While Russ remained energized, the rest of the team began to trail off as the game went on. The Suns’ trio of Booker, KD and CP3 proved to be too much for the undermanned Clips.

A FINAL STAND

The Clippers started off game five on a mission.

While the Suns could not miss, the Clippers continued to dominate the offensive glass and take advantage of the extra possessions. Mason Plumlee was a force inside, corralling five offensive rebounds in the first half. A well-rounded team game had led to the Clips scoring 70 points at half with a nine-point lead.

In the third quarter, however, things took a turn. The nine-point lead rapidly vanished and the Suns where in the driver’s seat.

What was once a cohesive unit playing great team basketball had become a discombobulated mess. It got to a point where it appeared that no Clipper wanted to take part in this game. The defensive effort displayed would not be acceptable at L.A. fitness let alone the NBA.

Devin Booker, again, was the driving force behind the sensational Phoenix run. He hit consecutive tough pull-up jumpers late in the third helping extend the Suns’ lead to 17. Booker finished the third quarter with 25 points— one more than all of LA.

At this point, all seemed lost for the Clippers. The game was in basketball limbo, with the players going through the motions waiting for the end.

Out of nowhere, the basketball Gods had brought out their defibrillators and shocked the Clippers back to life. In the next minute and a half, the Clippers would proceed to go on a 12-0 run consisting of two critical threes from Batum. It was now a one-possession game.

Teams traded buckets until a Clips stop led to a Westbrook fast break. To the Clippers’ dismay, Russ missed a layup that he would hit 99 times out of 100. By now the Suns should have put the Clippers away, but a missed wide-open three from Chris Paul and a careless turnover from Booker left the door open for the Clips.

Careless turnovers plagued the Clippers all season long, which became their demise as back-to-back turnovers sealed the deal.

While the Clippers did not get the result they wanted, they went out fighting. They were able to make it a competitive series despite missing their two stars. The players that were able to play deserve a lot of credit for leaving it all on the floor.

By themselves, they’re great. But together, they’re unstoppable! Add a double dose of greatness to your lineup with the Kawhi Leonard Los Angeles Clippers Dynamic Duo Bobblehead! Complete the set by connecting it perfectly with its Paul George pairing Dynamic Duo Bobblehead! Take 15% off at checkout when you shop with the code THELEADSM15 today!

About Josh Douglas

Josh is a fan of shot creators, big guys that play like guards, and on-court accessories. He is an avid supporter of all things Clippers and 76ers. Josh writes about the L.A. Clippers.

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