Most of the 2019-20 season felt like a preordained march to an all-Los Angeles Western Conference Finals. From the day the Clippers agreed to terms with Kawhi Leonard and brought in Paul George, I was as excited as anyone about the Battle for Los Angeles.
The Clippers had been chasing ghosts for the last few years, attempting to wage war against an opponent that had gone into hibernation. This was the first time in the two teams’ history that they would simultaneously field a championship contender, and that they could face off against one another for the right to go the NBA Finals.
Even though these were the two best teams in the West during the regular season, we’re not going to get that series. In 2006, the Lakers blew a 3-1 lead to miss out on playing the Clippers in the second round, and now the Clippers have returned the favor.
There are many reasons to be disappointed about the Clippers losing Game 7, and we will get to all of them in due time. Stay tuned. For now, the part that stings is that there will be no Battle for L.A. Beating the Lakers in the playoffs would have been the ultimate statement for the Clippers, and sports fans in this city will miss out on what could have been a truly epic matchup.
Maybe it will be better to hold off on this series until the two teams can both play in Staples Center, or at least in Los Angeles — it would have been strange to duel for L.A. bragging rights in Orlando, after all — but this feels like a missed opportunity to have created basketball history in this city. Who knows when another chance like this will come around again.
More news for Wednesday (Some of these are going to suck. Sorry, folks):
- Mirjam Swanson on the Clippers’ dashed hopes. Andrew Greif on the pain at the end of a season.
- Brian Windhorst on the Clippers being pot-committed.
- Kevin O’Connor on the Clippers revealing their true selves.
- The all-Rookie teams were announced Tuesday. Ja Morant, Kendrick Nunn, Brandon Clarke, Zion Williamson, and Eric Paschall made the first team; Tyler Herro (who missed out on the first team by one vote), Terence Davis II, Coby White, PJ Washington Jr., and Rui Hachimura made the second team.
- The Heat came back to beat the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, punctuated by a game-saving block from Bam Adebayo.
- Both Miami and Boston’s head coaches sought advice from an unlikely source this offseason: a Division II head coach named Jim Crutchfield.