Will the Clippers Curse Finally End This Postseason?

Clippers guard Paul George, left, talks to Kawhi Leonard at a timeout during the second half at the Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

In their 51-year tenure as an NBA franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers have been seemingly cursed. The Clippers have yet to make a Conference Finals appearance during their time as an NBA franchise. Additionally, Los Angeles has been extremely close to a Conference Finals appearance several times. However, in every instance, they have come up short. The Clippers’ curse has been ongoing ever since they were founded in 1970.

The Clippers have also forfeited two 3-1 series leads in the last six years, both in the second round. They gave up a 3-1 lead to the Rockets in 2015 and one to the Nuggets in the 2020 postseason.

Reggie Miller is one of the members of the NBA community that seriously believes the franchise is cursed.

“The Clippers’ curse is real. I was led to believe the Clippers. Their whole marketing scheme was to deface the Los Angeles Lakers and their history. That’s all they wanted. ‘New sheriff in town.’ ‘We’re taking over LA.’ They damn near almost did it by fooling us all.”

Reggie Miller, following the Clippers’ 2020 postseason collapse 

However, this season, the Clippers have one of the strongest teams they’ve ever had. So, it’s worth wondering if they will finally end the Clippers’ curse this postseason.

They Have Something to Prove

May 4, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Clippers guard Paul George (13) drives to the basket defended by Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the third quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

This year, the Clippers are back with a vengeance. LA was humiliated in the bubble last season. Because of this, the Clippers are no longer the favorites to win it all. Despite this, Los Angeles has somewhat of a better team than they did last season.

Paul George, specifically, has a great deal to prove to the rest of the NBA. He performed poorly in the playoffs last year and was a big reason why the Clippers came up short.

However, he is performing incredibly well as of late. Since March 25th, he is averaging 26.3/7.9/4.8 on 45.4 FG%. If he could carry over this incredible play into the playoffs, it would be huge for LA.

As of right now, playoff Paul George is still somewhat of a question mark. George performing well for the Clippers could be the difference between a championship and LA coming up short. Kawhi Leonard has always been very consistent in the playoffs throughout the last few years. If PG can play well in addition to Leonard, there will be few teams that can stop the Clippers this year.

The motivation that the Clippers have right now to prove the NBA wrong can be huge for them. They can use this fuel to make a big playoff push and end the Clippers’ curse once and for all.

Rajon Rondo

Apr 26, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LA Clippers guard Rajon Rondo (4) dribbles the ball against New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes (10) during the first half at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers acquired Rondo at the trade deadline. Los Angeles traded Lou Williams and two second-round picks to acquire the veteran point guard.

Rajon Rondo is a big reason why the Clippers may be able to end their curse this season. He has done a terrific job elevating the play of the Clippers this year. Rondo indeed is going to be a huge x-factor in the playoffs for the Clippers.

The Clippers weren’t able to win it all last season because they didn’t have a strong leader. Rondo provides the Clippers with that; he is very vocal and can proficiently orchestrate the offense.

Rajon Rondo makes Paul George and Kawhi Leonard so much better offensive players. When Rajon Rondo, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George all play, the Clippers are 5-1.

Also, George and Leonard are historically efficient from the field when they have Rondo’s elite playmaking. With Rondo, Leonard has a TS% of 64.96, and George has a TS% of 60.55. If Rondo can continue to help the offense of the Clippers flow at an elite level throughout the playoffs, LA will be the team to beat. Leonard and George will be hard to stop if they can continue to shoot the ball this efficiently.

Ultimately, Rondo can be what allows Paul George to continue to play great throughout the playoffs. Paul George is averaging 26.8/6.8/4.9 on 48.3 FG% when he plays with Rondo. Rajon Rondo can ultimately put the issue of George’s playoff inconsistency aside with his terrific playmaking.

Rajon Rondo received the nickname “Playoff Rondo” with his incredible performance in last year’s playoffs. If he can have another fantastic postseason, the Clippers may very well make a deep run this year.

The West is Wide Open This Year

Apr 28, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) passes the ball by LA Clippers guard Reggie Jackson (1) to Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) during the second half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Several teams have the potential to make it out of the Western Conference this season. The Clippers, Lakers, Jazz, Suns, and even the Nuggets all have a solid chance.

For the first time in a long while, there is no clear favorite in the West this year. If they were healthy this season, it would be the Lakers. However, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been injured for most of this season, and the Lakers are the sixth seed. Additionally, it is unclear if they will return to full form in time for the postseason.

This gives a huge window of opportunity to the Clippers. The top two teams in the West, the Jazz, and the Suns, do not have a great deal of playoff experience. On the contrary, Leonard, Rondo, and Ibaka have all won championships. Additionally, several other Clippers have been on rosters that made deep playoff runs.

The Clippers have the tools, experience, and roster to win it all this year. They also can capitalize on a unique environment this year in the Western Conference. The Clippers’ curse has the potential to come to an end this postseason if they play their cards right.

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