The Los Angeles Clippers have been branded the little brothers of their hometown rival Los Angeles Lakers.
Former Celtic/Clipper Paul Pierce said on ABC that the Clippers "will always be the (Lakers) little brother in (LA)"…and that to shed that label they need to win 17 championships and get their own arena pic.twitter.com/VZ6NeJvT45
— Nate Smith (@NateSmithNBA) December 25, 2019
This could be the year that they shed that title.
The Western Conference is looking weaker than ever.
The Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns top the conference standings.
However, sitting at fourth is the Clippers.
This is a make or break season for the team.
If they have another disappointing run in the postseason, it is likely that the Kawhi Leonard era of the Clippers will be over.
He has a player option and could become an unrestricted free agent after the season concludes.
With all of these factors, this could be the biggest postseason in the entire history of the Clippers.
2021 looks to be a season in which any team could make it to the NBA Finals.
Despite this, the Clippers still will fall short in the playoffs.
There are two major reasons as to why the team will not make the Finals.
1. Roster Construction
The first major reason as to why the Clippers will not make the NBA Finals is their roster construction.
While they do have one of the most talented rosters on paper, up to this point, that talent has not translated onto the court in the biggest moments.
This is due to a lack of chemistry and a lack of leadership on the team.
Yahoo Sources: A portrait inside the Los Angeles Clippers’ collapse where frustration, lack of chemistry and getting on the same page was an ongoing obstacle. https://t.co/1G8TP2Z9zc pic.twitter.com/ZLRdbVXjn2
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) September 16, 2020
The Clippers have reportedly improved their chemistry when compared to last season.
However, they still seem to have locker room issues.
This is due to star players getting special treatment and those same players not being leaders on the team.
Leonard and Paul George are both strong candidates to make the Hall of Fame when they retire.
Despite being so talented, they have never been described as leaders.
Both are reserved and lead by example rather than being vocal.
This is not a bad thing, however, a team cannot have postseason success without a vocal leader in today’s NBA.
The second reason as to why the Clippers will not win the NBA Finals is that history is not on their side.
Only four times in NBA history has a four seed made the NBA Finals.
The Clippers fell to the fourth seed in the West after losing a tiebreaker to the Denver Nuggets.
This could work out in their favor.
If the Lakers win their first play in game, they will secure the seventh seed and the Clippers would not have to potentially play them until the Western Conference Finals.
This is the best-case scenario for the Clippers.
They have a very complicated history with the Lakers, however, and it has resulted in many knowing the Clippers as the other Los Angeles team and being the Lakers’ little brothers.
On paper, it could be argued that the Clippers are the second-best team in the West behind only the Lakers when all teams are healthy.
However, if they are to face off, it would almost be certain that the Lakers would knock them out.
There would just be too much pressure on the Clippers to win.
With Kawhi potentially leaving if they do not make the Finals, the history between the two teams, and the fact that the Clippers have never made a Conference Finals let alone a NBA Finals series, it would be too much pressure on the Clippers to win.
Adding in the embarrassing playoff collapses that have come from George over the past three seasons, it is almost certain that the Clippers will not be able to make it out of the West and have their shot at winning their first NBA title.