With all the “Big Three” gone, no one expected the Los Angeles Clippers to make much impact in the 2018-19 NBA season. When they traded their best player, Tobias Harris, to the Philadelphia 76ers before the February NBA trade deadline, most people believed that the Clippers would start to drop from the Western Conference standings and end the 2018-19 NBA season as one of the lottery teams.
However, even without a legitimate NBA superstar on their roster, the Clippers managed to prove their doubters wrong and earned the final playoff spot in the deep Western Conference. In the first round of the 2019 Western Conference Playoffs, the Clippers will be facing the team who has won three NBA championship titles in the last four years – the Golden State Warriors. Benjamin Hoffman of The New York Times admitted that the Clippers are “N.B.A.’s most surprising team” in the 2018-19 NBA season, but he doesn’t think that they have a chance of beating the star-studded Warriors in a best-of-seven series.
Hoffman believes that the Clippers will need a miracle in order to become a legitimate threat to Golden State. Hoffman predicts that the Warriors will sweep the Clippers in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
“An overachieving team can be exhilarating to watch, and there were matchups where the Clippers might have surprised someone. But no matter how bored the Warriors (57-25) seemed this season, a loss in this series would overtake the 2007 We Believe Warriors’ upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks as the most shocking first-round loss in recent history. Golden State is just too deep and too talented for the plucky Clippers to stand a chance.”
With Warriors' first-round playoff series vs. Clippers starting on Saturday, sharing an extensive piece from earlier this season on @jonniewest4 on what he learned from his Hall-of-Fame dad Jerry West while also trying to be own his own man. https://t.co/UqRQORpPmr— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 11, 2019
It’s definitely not a surprise why Hoffman and most NBA fans think that way. The Clippers may have shown their capability to beat several NBA powerhouse teams during the regular season, but it’s still hard to see them defeating the Warriors’ core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins even in just one game in the postseason. However, nothing is impossible in the NBA and as of now, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers must be making his own strategies to enable them to give the Warriors a thrilling series.
Even if the Clippers suffer an early exit in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, they still have a bright future in the league. The Clippers will have enough salary cap space to chase the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker in the 2019 NBA free agency and a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal next summer. If they succeed to acquire their top targets on the trade and free agency market, the Clippers could turn from an overachieving team to a legitimate title contender in the 2019-20 NBA season.