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Clippings: Why you should be optimistic about the Clippers’ chances in Game 7

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One player has vital experience in just this situation.

Philadelphia 76ers v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Are you nervous about the LA Clippers’ Game 7 showdown Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets? Sure, why not — recent history has not been kind to the Clippers in Game 7s. Of course, history, period, has not been altogether glorious for the team.

But I came across an interesting data point in the lead-up to the big game, in Kawhi Leonard’s history in Game 7s.

Australia’s Sporting News had an interesting post breaking down Leonard’s Game 7 priors, with the star posting a 2-2 career record. However, three of those four games came when he was a youngster with the San Antonio Spurs, before he broke out to become one of the most surprising superstars in NBA history.

Leonard’s most memorable Game 7 to date was his buzzer-beater for the Toronto Raptors last season in the second round against the Philadelphia 76ers.

I’m sure Clippers fans will take a win of any kind, however they can get it. A blowout victory, buzzer-beater drama, a win would be a win.

But Leonard has been in this spot before, and he’s been excellent in the playoffs overall this season. Can he continue to dominate and will the rest of the Clippers put together a coherent 48 minutes (or more, if necessary) to win and advance to face the Lakers? It’s natural to be nervous about this Game 7, but Leonard is arguably the most clutch player left in the playoffs, and he’s on the Clippers’ side. That in itself should be reason for optimism ahead of the big game.

More news for Tuesday:

  • Doc says this Game 7 is a learning experience: Clippers coach Doc Rivers admitted he doesn’t know what will happen in Tuesday’s game but said if his team advances it should be a great learning experience for a group in their first season together.
  • Reason for pessimism? If Leonard’s Game 7 record is pretty good, Rivers has a losing record as a coach in them.
  • Doc on LouWill and foul trouble: More from Rivers, including the acknowledgment of foul trouble among the guards. It feels like George is in foul trouble early almost every game, right?
  • Should Harrell hit the bench in Game 7? John Hollinger has a lengthy breakdown of the Clippers’ recent woes at The Athletic, and while it’s worth a read in itself, he asks a provocative question near the end: Should Montrezl Harrell ride the pine for most or all of Game 7 so Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green can tag-team on Nikola Jokic?
  • The Ringer also thinks Harrell should not see as much time: They also argue Zubac should get the minutes and Green and Marcus Morris should take Harrell’s playing time to go to a smallball lineup to counteract Jokic’s 3-point prowess.
  • The Bubble births the Balkan Boys: This feature from The Athletic recently did a good job profiling the large contingent of players from the former Yugoslavia in the NBA bubble, and how they are getting to know each other better with group dinners and singalongs.