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#pounditSunday, September 20, 2020

Articles tagged: Los Angeles Clippers

Doc Rivers expected to return as Clippers coach

Doc Rivers

The Los Angeles Clippers fell woefully short of expectations this season, which has led to some speculation that big changes could be coming. Even if that happens, it doesn’t sound like one of them will be at head coach.

Doc Rivers is expected to return as the head coach of the Clippers next season, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. One of the main reasons Haynes cited for that is that Kawhi Leonard signed with the Clippers in large part because he wanted to play for Rivers.

The Clippers were considered by many to be the favorite in the Western Conference after they added Leonard and George. They had a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals and found a way to lose the series.

That was not the first time the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead under Rivers, as they did the same against the Houston Rockets back in 2015. One player took a shot at Rivers over that after L.A. was eliminated in Orlando.

Despite all that, Rivers has championship experience and is still considered one of the best coaches in the NBA. He deserves a second chance with Leonard and George, even if players hinted at some potentially significant issues with the team.

Clippers players reportedly asked out of Game 7 for breather

The Los Angeles Clippers saw their season end in incredibly disappointing fashion on Tuesday night, and there have been multiple indications that conditioning became a huge issue for the team.

After taking a 3-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets, L.A. completely collapsed and lost three straight. The Clippers took a two-point lead into halftime in Game 7 before seemingly giving up. They scored just 15 points in the fourth quarter. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, multiple Clippers players asked out of the game in the fourth quarter because they needed a breather.

Doc Rivers told reporters after the game that his players were visibly exhausted during Game 7, which is not typical for them. The coach believes having multiple players who were in and out of the bubble became problematic.

“I was never comfortable. Never was,” Rivers said, per Spears. “Conditioning wise we had guys who couldn’t play minutes.”

The only thing more frustrating for Clippers fans than the meltdown is the way the players have handled it. Multiple Clippers players said they believe chemistry was an issue for the team. Then we saw Paul George, who shot just 4-for-16 in Game 7, make some troubling remarks about the Clippers’ mentality.

No team should be more motivated heading into next season, but it’s fair to question if that will be the case in L.A.

Lou Williams, Paul George point to Clippers’ chemistry as problem

Lou Williams

Lou Williams and Paul George both pointed to the team’s chemistry as an issue for the Los Angeles Clippers in their early playoff loss this season.

The Clippers lost 104-89 to the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Tuesday night. The Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead and choked in the fourth quarter with just 15 points in Game 7.

The disappointing Game 7 and season left the Clippers answering questions after the loss. The team’s lack of chemistry was a major talking point.

“We came up short. We did have championship expectations. We had the talent to do it. I don’t think we had the chemistry to do it and it showed,” Williams said after the game. “We had lapses on defense and on offense. I think guys have played in systems where they were expecting guys to be in certain spots offensively. A lot of different guys made adjustments. It showed. But at the end of the day we were up 3-1 … we should have closed this deal out. You give credit to Denver. We take our lumps and keep moving.”

George pointed to the same issue.

“First year together … we can’t even say we want to change our roster; we like what we got. We’ve been saying it all year: just chemistry, being together. The more we’re together, the better we will be. It’s year one, year one. We’ve got a lot to reflect on.”

Head coach Doc Rivers brought up the team’s lack of continuity.

Kawhi Leonard mentioned the chemistry too:

The Clippers had their two star players join the team over the summer. The Kawhi Leonard and Paul George took turns missing games in the regular season. Other players missed games too. Then you had players in and out of the Orlando Bubble at times too, including one who got punished.

None of that stopped the Clippers from building a 3-1 series lead against Denver, but when the going get tough, it may have kept them from powering through.

Clippers have meltdown for the ages in playoff series loss to Nuggets

Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers went out in Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinals series against the Denver Nuggets the same way they went in the series: pathetically.

A team viewed by many as a championship contender, the Clippers took a 3-1 series lead against Denver before losing the next three games to get sent home early from Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

The Clippers lost Game 5 by six points, Game 6 by 13 points, and Game 7 by 15 points. They got progressively worse in every game. They matched the series collapse with a pathetic showing in the final quarter of Game 7.

The Clippers scored just 15 points in the final quarter — their lowest mark for a quarter during the game.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George barely showed up. Leonard was 6-for-22 shooting with just 14 points. Paul George shot 4-for-16 for 10 points. Marcus Morris was 2-for-9, and Lou Williams was 3-for-11. The team could not bury a shot to save their lives.

Many of the team’s fans saw this coming after the bad showings in Games 5 and 6. There was some hope they would shake off the poor performances and bounce back in Game 7. The Clippers took a two-point lead into halftime, and all looked good. But then the Nuggets dusted them in the second half.

The Clippers need to take a hard look at themselves to figure out what went wrong. They built a dream roster and went out with a whimper. They also only have Leonard under contract for one more year, and they have nothing but disappointment to show for his first season.

Report: Clippers plan to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo as free agent

Giannis Antetokounmpo

We’re a year away from Giannis Antetokounmpo’s potential free agency, but teams are already being linked to the Milwaukee Bucks star.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, the Heat, Warriors, Raptors, and Mavericks are at least interested in making a run at Antetokounmpo in free agency.

Notably, O’Connor adds that multiple league sources believe the Los Angeles Clippers are planning to pursue the Greek superstar. That would give the team a fearsome core of Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George.

O’Connor does note that the Bucks are the “clear favorite” to retain Antetokounmpo when he hits free agency.

The reality is that Antetokounmpo doesn’t seem to want to leave Milwaukee. A lot can change in a year. That’s especially true if he gets to the open market. For now, Milwaukee can feel some encouragement that they’ll be able to retain their star. It looks like plenty of heavyweights are lining up in the event they can’t, though.

Clippers’ Ivica Zubac shoots down unflattering report about Patrick Beverley

Patrick Beverley

NBA players have held tense meetings with the league and NBA Players Association this week amid their boycotts, but Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac says any talk of Patrick Beverley stepping out of line is inaccurate.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports published a story on Thursday night providing a behind-the-scenes look at some of what has gone on in Orlando since the shooting of Jacob Blake. At one point, Haynes says NBPA executive director Michele Roberts spoke to players about the financial ramifications of ending the season and leaving Orlando. Beverley disagreed with Roberts’ logic when she was going over numbers and interrupted her multiple times. When she asked if she could finish making her point, Beverley reportedly shot back, “No, I pay your salary.”

Sources told Haynes that NBPA president Chris Paul and other veteran players intervened and told Beverley the type of disrespect he showed Roberts will not be tolerated. Zubac claims that never happened. On Friday, Zubac shot down the report on Twitter and said “Pat never said anything like this.”

Only those who were in the meeting know what happened. If Haynes’ report was accurate, it sounds like Beverley owes Roberts an apology. If it wasn’t, Zubac shouldn’t be the only one who defends Beverley.

This isn’t the first we have heard about meetings involving players becoming contentious this week.

Report: LeBron James’ Lakers, Clippers vote to end NBA season

LeBron James

The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers voted to end the NBA season, according to a report.

NBA players held a meeting on Wednesday night after three playoff games were postponed. The postponements were triggered by the Milwaukee Bucks deciding not to play what would have been Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic. The other two games scheduled for the day were later postponed as well.

In the players meeting, the Lakers and Clippers reportedly were the only two teams that voted not to continue. LeBron James, the star player of the Lakers and league headliner, reportedly exited the meeting.

If the players on those teams decide not to continue the season, it will be hard for the NBA to actually conduct a valid remaining season without them.

Even the Bucks and Toronto Raptors, which were vocal in considering shutting things down, reportedly voted in support of continuing. It’s unclear what happens from here. NBA owners are reportedly set to meet on Thursday. A previous report said the NBA season was in jeopardy, and it sounds like that is definitely the case.

Note that ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski says the vote was more of a polling and not an official decision.

Doc Rivers slams Clippers as ’emotionally weak’ following overtime loss

Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers delivered a scathing indictment of the Los Angeles Clippers following their overtime loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

The Clippers blew a 21-point lead in regulation against a Mavericks team missing Kristaps Porzingis. They then failed to close out Game 4 in overtime, allowing a Luka Doncic game-winner at the buzzer. That was enough for Rivers to brand his team “emotionally weak” following the defeat.

This isn’t what you want to hear in the opening round of the playoffs. It’s clearly meant as a wake-up call as the Clippers struggle with Dallas more than most expected them to. Blowing a 21-point lead at this juncture of the year just can’t happen, especially with a chance to go up 3-1 in the series.

Rivers’ comments have some similarities to what he said about a different group he coached. Clearly, he doesn’t want this Clippers team — a legitimate title contender — to go the same way that one did.

Report: Clippers players want Lakers to have to face Blazers in playoffs

The Los Angeles Clippers clearly have their eyes on the rival Lakers as playoff seeding and matchups come down to the wire, and they even know who they want the Lakers to play in the first round if it were up to them.

According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Clippers players actively want the Lakers to have to face the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, as they believe the Blazers could actually beat the Lakers. The sentiment is strong enough that coach Doc Rivers reportedly heard his players discussing the scenario, either on the bench or in the locker room.

The Clippers could have helped increase the likelihood of such a scenario Saturday had they lost to Portland, but they ultimately won a game that led to some serious bad blood.

As of Sunday afternoon, Portland sits a game and a half behind the eighth place Memphis Grizzlies in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot. Whoever gets it will face a Laker team that looks vulnerable, having gone just 2-4 since entering the Orlando bubble.

One can see why the Clippers would favor Portland, a team with two star guards in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum and a sturdy interior defender in Jusuf Nurkic. Ironically, the Clippers’ win Saturday may play a big role in preventing their preferred matchup from happening.

Lou Williams investigated by NBA for visiting strip club while on excused absence

Lou Williams

Lou Williams has rejoined his Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA Bubble in Orlando, but he created a controversy in the process and is now being investigated by the league for visiting a strip club.

Williams left the NBA Bubble for an excused absence and was away from the team on Friday.

A controversy stirred up when rapper Jack Harlow posted a photo on Instagram of him and Williams together at a club.

The two were wearing masks in the photo, indicating the picture was likely taken at some point since the coronavirus pandemic grew in the U.S.. Harlow quickly deleted the photo and then claimed it was an old picture.

“That was an old pic of me and Lou. I was just reminiscing cuz I miss him,” Harlow said.

Williams also tried to clarify on Twitter, saying nobody was “partying”.

The Clippers guard also posted a few notes on social media sending his condolences about Paul Williams Sr., and saying he was glad he got to say goodbye, indicating his absence was related to a death.

The story doesn’t end there, though.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said on Saturday that they were not happy to see photos of Williams reportedly at a club.

Additionally, the NBA began investigating Williams’ whereabouts while he was on the excused absence to determine how long he would need to quarantine. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne says Williams admitted to NBA security that he did attend Magic City Gentleman’s Club in Atlanta for a short time on Thursday night.

Williams will have to quarantine for a minimum of four days before being able to rejoin his team in the bubble.

This isn’t the first time an NBA player has been part of a controversy for being photographed at Magic City. Last time, it was one of Williams’ teammates.