The Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs by the Phoenix Suns. However, that did not mean that wildly intriguing basketball stopped happening.
In the second round alone, there are two Game 7’s and the L.A. Clippers — behind head coach Tyronn Lue — made some franchise history.
On Friday night, the Clippers advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in their team’s long and frustrating history. They did so in improbable fashion, winning Games 5 and 6 from a 2-2 series tie without Kawhi Leonard, who suffered an undisclosed knee injury. There is no telling if Leonard will be available for the Conference Finals against the Suns, but the Clippers managed without him anyways.
Following their huge victory, Lue praised Clippers fans and gave some advice to Lakers fans who may be looking for a team to root for in the postseason. “Yeah, tonight, just seeing our fans and how they stayed to the end and how they were cheering, it just felt good. It was a great feeling. You know, like I said, the team has been starving for success and the team has been doing the same thing.
“To me I always look at it differently. I know the Lakers are out and there’s a lot of Laker fans here. But once the Lakers are gone, if we’re not playing the Lakers, you should be cheering for the Clippers because it’s all in one city. I can just feel the love and I’m very happy and proud of our guys.”
While the sentiment behind what Lue said is actually pretty positive, it is strange that Lue brought up the Lakers completely unprompted when asked about Clippers fans. It’s also interesting that now Lue views it as all one city when that’s simply not how the Clippers approached things the last two seasons.
When L.A. signed Leonard and traded for Paul George, they made it very clear that they wanted to be separate from the Lakers in all ways, going so far as to create a whole marketing campaign based on that idea.
Lakers fans remember that and likely aren’t rooting for the Clippers because of it. If they had never done that, then it would be a completely different conversation.
Lakers could explore Kyle Lowry availability
While the Clippers are fighting for their first-ever championship, the Lakers are already in the heat of offseason rumors. Just like at the trade deadline, they are once again being tied to Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. Acquiring him would be very difficult logistically, but all rumors suggest that they are going to at least attempt it.
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