Report: Clippers Players 'Fatigued' in Game 7, Struggled to Play 3-Minute Stints

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2020

The Los Angeles Clippers players sit on the bench during the second half as they fall to the Denver Nuggets in an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly struggled with conditioning issues Tuesday during their Game 7 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. 

Marc J. Spears provided details about the Clippers' season-ending loss:

L.A. head coach Doc Rivers hinted toward the problem after the game.

"I just knew conditioning-wise, like, we had guys that just couldn't play minutes, and that's hard, you know," Rivers told reporters. "I mean, there were two or three times a night where we actually started getting it going, and a guy had to come out. I mean, it is what it is. So, no, I was never comfortable."

The Clippers came out strongly in each of their three opportunities to win the series. They built a double-digit lead in each contest only to watch it evaporate in the second half. They were outscored in both the third and the fourth quarters each of the final three games.

Los Angeles looked totally gassed in the latter stages of Game 7. It scored just 33 points after halftime and didn't have anything left in the tank to mount a final fourth-quarter surge, tallying just 15 points in the final frame to get eliminated with a whimper.

It was a lackluster end to a season with sky-high expectations for the Clippers. This was the year they were finally supposed to end their 50-year drought of not reaching the conference finals, a streak that dates back to their time as the Buffalo Braves.

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Instead, they were ousted before even reaching the long-awaited clash with the rival Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals.

Most of the Clippers' key building blocks, led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, remain under contract heading into next season. Talent wasn't the chief concern throughout the year, and it wasn't the main reason for their exit, which came down to factors like conditioning and chemistry.

They'll probably cruise through the regular season again next year, but they must do a better job of making sure they're ready for the grueling nature of a Western Conference playoffs loaded with legitimate championship contenders.

Blowing a 3-1 series lead against the Nuggets should provide plenty of motivation.