Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and the rest of Clippers were built to beat LeBron James. But they definitely weren’t built to beat the Nuggets.
The gravitational pull of LeBron James is so massive that entire teams are formed to beat him. Just ask Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and the Los Angeles Clippers.
They were pulled together to combat the best basketball player of our generation, and they couldn’t even make the meeting.
That’s because, while they are stacked with tough wings who could guard James, that’s not what they needed against Denver.
As you may already know, Paul George is known for collapsing under pressure. Check out what self-proclaimed “Playoff P” did last night with the Clippers’ season on the line:
Doc Rivers is not known for his clutch moments, either. He’s lost most series after a 3-1 lead than any coach in NBA history.
But Kawhi Leonard?
He doesn’t have emotion. He was built in a lab to destroy LeBron James and teams like the Warriors.
He’s the Terminator. He’s the Klaw.
But last night, he wasn’t much more than a broken fingernail. Leonard couldn’t make a shot to save his season, as he shot 1-11 in the second half. And he was powerless to stop a couple of young kids on the rise.
There were many reasons this team crumbled, but one of them is because it was built to beat LeBron James–not the Denver Nuggets.
Okay, so LeBron James is not part of the Clippers’ front office. But the front office did form their team with him in mind.
They grabbed two of the supposedly best wing players in the league. They held onto Montrezl Harrell, and they signed the gritty Marcus Morris late in the season.
Doc Rivers could throw all of these guys at the best player in the league, LeBron James.
But he couldn’t throw any of them at Nikola Jokic or Jamal Murray.
It’s not like he didn’t try, though. The Clippers’ length hounded Murray as they took a 3-1 lead. But Denver modified their gameplan, and Murray slowly built his confidence back up. He hit his crescendo last night with a 40-point outburst against what was supposed to be the best defense in the league.
Now, the team that was built to face the King will have to watch him from Cancun, as Damian Lillard so eloquently pointed out to Clippers guard Patrick Beverly.
The Clippers are not their own team. They’re a team built in response to someone else’s greatness. And just like the Rockets learned with the Warriors, that doesn’t usually work out.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.