The seemingly inevitable battle of LA in the Western Conference Finals won’t happen this year after the Los Angeles Clippers added themselves to the list of greatest chokes in sports history.

The Clippers were eliminated from the NBA playoffs Tuesday night, losing Game 7 of their second-round series to the Denver Nuggets, 104-89. Not only did the heavily favored Clippers blow a 3-1 series lead, but the team forfeited 15-point second-half leads in both Game 5 and Game 6.

Los Angeles led by as much as 12 points in the deciding game. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George couldn’t buy a basket in crunch time, finishing with 24 points combined on 38 shot attempts.

It’s Denver’s second 3-1 comeback of the year, having rebounded from the same deficit to upend the Utah Jazz in the first round. Prior to the 2020 playoffs, only 11 teams in NBA history had won a series after falling behind 3-1.

 

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers were the last team to do so, beating the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. Coming off a championship in 2015 and a record-setting 73-win regular season, the Warriors suffered one of the most shocking upsets of all time.

The Clippers became NBA favorites last July when they signed Leonard and traded for George. As the No.2 seed in the Western Conference, the Clippers were still favored to beat the Lakers and reach the Finals when the playoffs began. 

After beating the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, the Clippers were the NBA’s biggest second-round favorites. FanDuel Sportsbook gave LA -1050 odds to defeat Denver, which was a +630 underdog ahead of Game 1.

The Clippers beat the Nuggets 96-85 in Game 4, and Denver was made a 20-1 underdog, minimum, at various sportsbooks when they trailed 3-1.

 

 

 

 

Leonard won the 2019 NBA Finals MVP award, leading the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever championship. In the eyes of many, he surpassed LeBron James as the best player in the league. 

The 2016 Warriors were defeated by James, one of the two best players in NBA history. The Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the 2017 Super Bowl to the New England Patriots, though the loss came at the hands of Tom Brady, the best quarterback the NFL ever has seen. 

For the Clippers, it was Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray who stood in their way. Both players have emerged as superstars in the bubble, but neither one has established himself as an all-time great, making the Clippers’ choke as bad as it gets in recent sports history.

Kawhi Leonard LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers of the LA Clippers dribbles the ball during the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 15, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images