When the Clippers went up 3-1 on the Nuggets last week, there was a great deal of excitement about the team achieving a historical milestone: The Clippers were one game away from advancing to the franchise’s first conference finals.
That piece of history is still within reach, and the Clippers are as close to the conference finals as they were five days ago, but now the team is also perilously approaching the wrong kind of history.
Before Game 6, the Clippers were 5-0 in postseason franchise history when leading by at least 16 points at halftime. Denver was 0-15 when trailing by at least 16 points in a playoff game. There are no longer zeroes in either of those statistics.
The Clippers have lost all seven games when they had an opportunity to advance to a conference finals, the most in NBA history and second most among all major men’s professional leagues. Three of those losses came in 2015 when they blew a 3-1 lead to the Rockets. The Clippers wouldn’t be the only franchise to blow multiple 3-1 leads — Philadelphia and Phoenix have both done so twice — but they have the only coach who has suffered that feat more than once, and this would be a record third.
No team has ever come back from down 3-1 twice in the same postseason, but the Nuggets seem confident that they can flip the script. The Clippers are all too familiar with allowing big comebacks. As Jovan Buha of The Athletic noted after Game 5, the Clippers were tied for the league lead by blowing six leads of at least 15 points during the season. Now, they have sole possession of that distinction.
None of this will matter if the Clippers simply win Game 7. The circuitous route to the conference finals will pale in comparison to the destination. The Clippers entered this series as the better team; it’s time they started playing like it again.
More news for Monday:
- The other three conference finalists are set: In the East, Miami will square off against Boston, who beat Toronto in an exhausting seven-game series. The Lakers are waiting in the West for the winner of this LA/Denver matchup.
- Brian Windhorst goes in on the Clippers’ sixth man problem.
- Paul George, who had 33 points in the loss Sunday, still thinks his team is in control.
- Mike D’Antoni is leaving his post as the head coach of the Houston Rockets. Tim MacMahon reports that Sam Cassell could be in the running to replace him.
Sources: There is mutual interest between the Rockets and Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell. Cassell started his playing career with the two-time champion “Clutch City” Rockets.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) September 13, 2020
- Paolo Uggetti chronicles the family experience in the bubble.
- The high quality of play in Orlando has NBA leadership reconsidering the effects of travel.
- The 2020-21 NBA season will reportedly start no earlier than Christmas. Previously, a Dec. 1 start date had been bandied around.
- Michael Pina talked to some NBA photographers about how their role has changed in the bubble.
- Zach Lowe’s weekly 10 Things include two positive observations about the Clippers.