As the curtains came down on their 2019-20 campaign, the LA Clippers finished on the wrong side of history.
Considered championship favourites when they traded for Paul George and signed Kawhi Leonard as a free-agent during the 2019 offseason, the team had a chance to reach their first Conference Finals and NBA Finals en route to winning a championship.
TAKEAWAYS: Murray, Jokic power Nuggets to Game 7 win
Instead, they became the 13th team in NBA history to cough up a 3-1 series lead and only the third franchise (Philadelphia, Phoenix) to do so twice (2015).
"We should have finished off," Kawhi Leonard said after the Clippers' Game 7 loss to the Nuggets. "The last three games pretty much mirrored each other."
The 2019 Finals MVP is referring to the Clippers blowing away double-digit leads in Games 5, 6, and 7 of this series.
The top plays from the @nuggets 3 double-digit comebacks wins vs. LAC! #NBAPlayoffs #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/dDJ7ykhbFB- NBA (@NBA) September 16, 2020
In Game 5, it was a 16-point second-half lead. In Game 6, it was a 19-point third-quarter lead and in the winner-take-all Game 7, it was a 12-point second-quarter lead.
In Game 7, after leading 56-54 at halftime, Los Angeles only scored 33 points in the second half while giving up 50 in the 104-89 loss.
Leonard scored 14 points on 6-of-22 shooting from the field. Paul George scored just 10 on 4-of-16 shooting as the duo went 0-of-11 in the fourth quarter and failed to score.
From Leonard to George to Lou Williams, multiple Clippers connected these blown leads to a lack of chemistry.
"That's when it comes to the team chemistry," said Leonard. "Knowing what we should run to get the ball in spots or just if someone's getting doubled or they're packing the paint...get smarter as a team. Basketball IQ got to get better."
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Three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner Williams, who finished with seven points and six assists in 24 minutes of Game 7, echoed those sentiments in his comments postgame.
"A lot of the issues we ran into, talent bailed us out, chemistry didn't."- NBA TV (@NBATV) September 16, 2020
Lou Williams on the Clippers series loss to the Nuggets. pic.twitter.com/mh743Wnltk
Just like Leonard, George credited the Nuggets for their comeback, mentioning their time playing together and continuity having a huge role in them bouncing back under pressure.
"I think internally, we've always felt this was not a championship or bust year for us. We can only get better the longer we stay together."- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 16, 2020
-PG on the Clippers being expected to win pic.twitter.com/UuPKDphaMY
With the loss, the Clippers' wait for their first-ever Conference Finals appearance continues.
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