Paul George’s quote after the Los Angeles Clippers lost Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinals series on Tuesday night should be alarming to fans.
George shot terribly and was just 4-for-16 in the Clippers’ 114-89 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 7. The Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead and multiple large leads in closeout games before rolling over in the fourth quarter on Tuesday.
The team never seemed to have urgency during the regular season or in the series against Denver, and that was reflected in George’s attitude.
“I think internally, we always felt this is not a championship-or-bust year for us,” George said after the game. “We can only get better the longer we stay together, the more we’re around each other. The more chemistry for this group, the better. We just didn’t have enough time together.”
That is a major issue.
This team was put together with the intention of winning a championship. The Clippers gave up loads of players and draft picks to get George from Oklahoma City and convince Kawhi Leonard to sign with them. They built a nice supporting cast as well. To see them go out in the conference semifinals and then say they didn’t have a championship-or-bust mentality is a problem.
The Clippers shouldn’t be taking anything for granted or acting like there will be plenty of other opportunities. That is how teams end up surpassing you.
But in hindsight, the lack of urgency existed all along. The Clippers had players missing regular season games throughout the year, then had players in and out of the bubble, and George went through some early playoff struggles. They need that championship mentality for next season. Their players also seem to recognize they have something else they need to fix.
Clippers’ Paul George on title expectations after Game 7 loss to Nuggets: “The fact of the matter is we didn’t live up to that expectation. But I think internally we’ve always felt this is not a ‘championship or bust’ year for us. … We just didn’t have enough time together.” pic.twitter.com/4OwZu036S3
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 16, 2020