The Los Angeles Clippers entered this year with sky-high expectations. Instead, the team suffered an all-time postseason collapse, going from 3-1 up on the Denver Nuggets and leading by double-digits in each elimination game to blowing those leads in every game en route to a Game 7 loss in which they went out with a whimper.
Considering everything that went into building this particular team, not even making the conference finals is an abject disaster. One can argue that this team needed to win a championship to justify the investment they made into this squad, both financially and in terms of what they gave up to put this team together over the years, but according to one member of the franchise, no one in their locker room believed the bar was that high during the 2019-20 campaign.
Paul George spoke to the media after the game and said that, while the expectations to win a ring existed, they never had the sort of title-or-bust mentality among themselves.
“I think internally, we’ve always felt this is not a championship or bust year for us. We can only get better the longer we stay together. The more chemistry for this group the better.“
– Paul George on the pressures of living up to title expectations pic.twitter.com/xb91H1Poq0
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 16, 2020
“It’s obvious pressure to live up to title expectations,” George said. “But as a player, I mean, you want that. You want that. Again, it’s the first time I’ve been in that situation where we’re expected to win. But it is what it is, it’s no cop out. Fact of the matter is, we didn’t live up to that expectation, but I think internally, we’ve always felt this is not a championship or bust year for us. We can only get better the longer we stay together and the more we’re around each other. The more chemistry for this group, the better, I think that’s really the tale of the tape of this season, we just didn’t have enough time together.”
George does make a point about the external expectations the team faced and that the team didn’t play enough together this season due to injuries, load management, and a handful of other factors. Still, it’s interesting that George discussed the team’s internal expectations, if only because back in June he appeared on Kevin Hart’s “Cold As Balls” and said otherwise.
“I think immediately, we expected to come in and win it all,” George said. “We didn’t have no other, like, hey, this was gonna take a year to get used to one another.”