Clippers Blasted for Late Playoff Move: ‘Scared of the Lakers’

Are the Clippers avoiding the Lakers?

Getty Are the Clippers avoiding the Lakers?

For much of the past week, speculation held among the NBA’s cognoscenti that it could, in fact, be beneficial for the Clippers to take on the Lakers in the opening round of the playoffs. It made sense. The Lakers have only had LeBron James on hand for two injury-shortened games in the past two months, and with two new rotation players — center Andre Drummond and wing Ben McLemore — the Lakers will be scrambling to find some continuity in the early going of the playoffs.

Sounds ripe for the plucking, right? ESPN’s Brian Windhorst even said the following last week on his podcast:

I have talked to some people in the league who said it would be an advantage for the Clippers to play the Lakers in the first round because Staples Center will have very few fans in it and therefore the inherent disadvantage of playing home games in front of Lakers fans would be minimized. And then if you’re the Clippers, you figure you have to play the Lakers at some point. That battle royale has to happen.

Turns out, though, the battle does not have to happen any time soon. With the Clippers’ loss on Friday night, it is assured that we will not see a Battle of L.A. in the first round of this year’s postseason.

And the Clippers, already a delicate team heading into the postseason, are being blasted for it.

Clippers Held Back All 5 Starters vs. Houston

First off, it is pretty clear the Clippers tanked their Friday game against the Houston Rockets, a team that had gone 3-22 in its previous 25 games. L.A. sat out Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley and played its other two starters — Ivica Zubac and Marcus Morris — a total of 12 minutes. Luke Kennard played 40 minutes, and rookie Jay Scrubb, making his third appearance, started and logged 40 minutes, too.

The loss put the Clippers in fourth, tied with Denver, which closes its season against Portland — the team the Lakers are chasing for the No. 6 seed. If the Nuggets beat the Trail Blazers Sunday, the Lakers can move up to sixth but the Nuggets will remain No. 3. If the Blazers win, the Lakers remain seventh and will be in the play-in tournament, hoping to get the No. 7 or 8 seed, which would mean the Clippers would not see the Lakers until Round 2, at the earliest.

The Clippers, then, are set up for either a 4-5 matchup against the Mavericks (with the No. 3 Nuggets playing the No. 6 Lakers), or a 3-6 matchup against Portland.

‘The Clippers Are Scared of the Lakers … YA THINK?’

Certainly, there was no shortage of online finger-wagging at the Clippers’ expense after they pretty clearly blew the game intentionally. Coach Ty Lue did not see it that way, of course, explaining that figuring out rotations and staying healthy are the priority.

“We got a lot of decisions to make but the most important thing is health,” Lue said.

But the theme around the Clippers after Friday was that they’re scared to face the Lakers to start the postseason.

To the question posed, “Y’all tryna play the Lakers in the 1st round?” the Ringer’s Twitter account suggested:

Lakers blogger and podcaster Daman Rangoola used Super Mario to show the lengths the Clippers were going to avoid the other L.A. team:

And among some Lakers fans, even the mere fact that the Clippers appear to be scared of the Lakers was cause for celebration:


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