When the Los Angeles Clippers blew a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in last season’s playoffs, they denied the world the matchup they were waiting for. All season long there was talk about how the Clippers were the best team in the Western Conference. Despite the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers had the better regular-season record, many still pegged the Clippers as the favorite.
Many players on the team were also very confident they could take down LeBron James and company. Well, they couldn’t even get past the Nuggets and lost Game 7 in an embarrassing fashion. LeBron was recently on the Road Trippin’ podcast and couldn’t resist the chance to blast the Clippers for not backing up all of their trash talk.
“I couldn’t believe it. To this day, I still can’t believe it,” LeBron said. “Obviously, the better team won. That’s what happened. But still, because all the s***-talking that they were doing all year – and exclude Paul and exclude Kawhi. Even exclude Trez. Obviously, we know who the s***-talkers was.”
LeBron is obviously throwing Patrick Beverley under the bus, who is the team’s biggest trash talker. The superstar wasn’t even done yet.
“And put theyself in a position to get what they been talking s*** about all year, and I just couldn’t fathom the part or come to the realization that that they did not seek that opportunity when it was right there.”
Nobody expected to Clippers to fail in such spectacular fashion which made the loss all the more notable.
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LeBron Praises Mike Malone
A big reason why the Clippers lost is that they underestimated the Nuggets. They have a strong coach and are led by two really good players. LeBron wasn’t done throwing shade at the Clippers but also gave a shoutout to Nuggets head coach Mike Malone.
“Just seeing the team that they had, they were built for that, I believe,” LeBron said They was coached for that, I believe. Obviously, they’ve got our championship head coach on their bench in [Ty] Lue. I just did not see them losing just like everybody else in the basketball sports world did not see them losing that series besides one of my favorite coaches, Mike Malone and his group.
“Mike Malone is my guy. I spent, what, I believe five years with him in Cleveland. That’s one of the guys I love the most.”
Lakers Can’t Underestimate the Clippers
The Lakers made a number of moves to improve their roster this offseason while the Clippers arguably got worse. They lost Montrezl Harrell and still don’t have a leader or a great point guard. However, they did land Serge Ibaka, which will help fix one of their biggest issues.
On paper, the Lakers are clearly the better team, especially on offense. They should be the unquestioned favorites to win it all again as long as they stay healthy. That said, they would be unwise to underestimate the Clippers. While Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were inconsistent in last season’s playoff run, they’re both capable of being among the 10 best players in the NBA.
Leonard is still elite and is usually really strong in the playoffs. George has been dreadful in the playoffs but is only a year removed from being an MVP candidate. If he can figure things out in the playoffs, the Clippers are a real threat. Even if George and Leonard play at an elite level, the Lakers should still be the better team but the gap might not be as big as people think.