LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Clippers have the ignominious distinction of never having advanced to the Conference Finals in the team’s 47-year history. After amassing a super team with the likes of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan, the team has failed yet again to reach that plateau after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Utah Jazz.
With Griffin out due to a toe injury, the play of the remaining stars was paramount, and in the crucial Game 7, the Clippers players outside of Jamal Crawford and Jordan disappointed. Crawford was spectacular off the bench as usual with 20 points and Jordan dunked and rebounded his way to a seventh straight double-double with 24 points and 17 rebounds, but they needed more help. Paul was underwhelming, as he scored only 13 points on 6-19 shooting, scoring zero points in the fourth quarter. JJ Redick failed once again to make any impact on the game whatsoever, as he only mustered a putrid three points.
The Clippers were unable to take advantage of Rudy Gobert’s virtual non-existence. Foul trouble kept him sidelined for most of the game as he scored only one point in 14 minutes of play. Favors filled in nicely though as he recorded a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Favors’ contributions, plus the solid play of George Hill (17 points) and more importantly Gordon Hayward (26 points, 8 rebounds), helped the Jazz pull away from the Clippers.
This series between two teams with identical regular season records, has been the most closely contested of the first round. The average margin of victory in the first 6 games of this series was five points, but thanks to a halftime lead that was extended with a 23-9 opening quarter run, the Jazz pulled ahead and never looked back.
Five years into the Lob City era and the Clippers have nothing to show for it besides a couple division titles back in 2013 and 2014. As the Jazz move on to play Golden State in the second round starting Tuesday night, Los Angeles faces some major questions heading into this off season.
Two of their biggest stars, Paul and Griffin have options to opt out of their contract and test free agency. After another disappointed end to the season, Paul and Griffins future with the team remains uncertain. As does Redicks, who at 32, may feel increasing pressure to chase that ever elusive championship elsewhere.