In Leonard’s absence, the Clippers were eliminated in the first round.
The Los Angeles Clippers lost 130-136 against the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the 1st round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs held at the Phoenix Footprint Center on the 26th (hereinafter Korean time).
The Clippers’ season ended in vain. The Clippers, who caught Game 1, lost 4 games in a row and finished the playoffs in 5 games.
Although they lost, the fighting spirit of the Clippers players shone in Game 5. Phoenix, who continued to compete fiercely against Phoenix under adverse conditions, once allowed a 19-point lead in the 5th game, but in the 4th quarter, it showed an outstanding mindset and went on a fierce chase. But it didn’t lead to victory.
It was a match that made me think, ‘If only Kawhi Leonard had existed…’. Leonard, who left due to a knee injury, did not return until the end of the series.
The Clippers are one of six teams, along with Denver, Charlotte and Minnesota, that have never reached the NBA Finals. Considering that Denver entered the NBA in 1976, the Clippers, founded in 1970, are the NBA’s longest-running team that has failed to reach the Finals. They didn’t even advance to the conference finals until the 2020-2021 season.
The summer of 2019 was a great time for 먹튀검증Clippers fans. Kawai Leonard, a special forward, was recruited as a winning contract to change the history of a long unranked team. In addition, the status of the Clippers changed in an instant by bringing in All-Star Paul George. He jumped up as a candidate for the championship at once.
However, the door to victory was still not open. In the first season Leonard and George entered LA, the Clippers suffered the humiliation of being reversed after leading the series with a 3-1 record against Denver. As the defeat in Game 7 approached, Leonard’s expression, which seemed to have drained his soul, became a hot topic among fans.
The following three seasons also saw the Clippers fail to advance to the Finals. Although he succeeded in reaching the first conference finals in the 2020-2021 season, he was caught up in Phoenix and was unable to advance to the next level. Last season, I couldn’t even make it to the playoffs, and this season, I finished the challenge in the first round.
Leonard, who was brought in as the winning contract, was unable to play in the team’s last game for three consecutive years due to injury. Even during the pivotal period leading to the conference finals, Leonard suffered a knee injury. Despite a series of criticisms, the Clippers are managing him in thorough road management, but Leonard’s physical condition is not supporting him.
Still struggling with his lower body, Leonard made 161 regular season appearances in his four seasons with the Clippers. George, who had the same ceremony, only played 189 games during the same period. The two players have played together in only 118 games.
No matter how talented you are, there is no business in front of an injury. Leonard’s performance on the court is still at the top of the league. In this series, he led the team to victory in Game 1 with his outstanding performance. However, he had a problem with his body again and was unable to play from the 3rd game.
Regarding the cause after the elimination was confirmed, coach Turren Lu said, “It’s injuries to our two best players. What else is there? Let’s think about it except Curry and Thompson in Golden State and Durant and Booker in Phoenix. No team goes to the playoffs. It’s hard to win without the two best players.”
Leonard’s contract with the Clippers runs until next season, with a player option for the 2024-2025 season. If Leonard does not escape from the terrible injury brutality, the Clippers’ nightmare will inevitably continue. His nickname of winning contract is also becoming colorless.