Did LA Clippers Tank Once Again to Avoid Facing Rivals Lakers Before Western Conference Finals?

Published 05/17/2021, 12:13 AM EDT
May 6, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) is defended by LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and center Ivica Zubac (40) in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The LA Clippers faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in their final regular-season game tonight. It was one of the best teams in the Conference facing one of the worst teams from the same Conference. It should have been an easy win, but the Clippers lost.

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Basketball is known for its unpredictability, but many fans could say they saw this result coming. This is the Clippers’ second loss in a row and both have come against tanking teams. They rested a lot of their important players in both games, which inevitably led to the loss. There were a lot of speculations as to why the Clippers did this after the first loss but the second loss confirms it.

The Clippers seem to be actively avoiding a playoff matchup against the Lakers, until the Conference Finals. The first loss against the Rockets confirmed that they won’t face the Lakers in round one, and the second loss assures them a Lakers-free round two as well.

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Against the Thunder tonight, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Rajon Rondo, Marcus Morris Sr, and Nicolas Batum were rested. Ivica Zubac played under a minute whereas Reggie Jackson played six minutes. Five of those seven players are starters and the other two are also crucial. One could say it was merely resting, but it looked fishy and much like a tank job.

Will this plan work in favor of the LA Clippers?

Following the end of the regular season, the Clippers will now enter the playoffs as the fourth seed. They will face the Mavericks in a rematch of the 2020 playoffs. Both teams have gotten stronger since last year so this will be an interesting matchup. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis will be aiming for revenge so the Clippers need to be on their toes.

If they win, they are likely to face the Warriors or the Jazz in the second round. The Jazz are the best team in the league this season, whereas the Warriors are one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs. So both are dangerous, and the Clippers will be tested once again.

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So if the Clippers can overcome those teams, they will reach their first Conference Final in franchise history. And facing the Lakers in this matchup would be a dream storyline for NBA fans. This could potentially work out for the Clippers, but they will have to be at their absolute best.

Dec 22, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) controls the ball against LA Clippers guard Patrick Beverley (21) and center Ivica Zubac (40) in the fourth quarter at Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Lakers. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers are one of the best teams in the league right now, but it was the same case last season too. So they will be aiming to prove their doubters wrong this season.

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Aaron Mathew

1638 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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