It sure seems like the Clippers are cursed

Create: 2020-09-16
Update: 2020-09-16
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Wednesday, September 16, 2020
What's up?! Welcome back, friend, and I hope you're not super low on energy this morning after another late, action-packed night. What did we have come our way last night? Oh, just a Game 7, some overtime playoff basketball, and some double-overtime playoff hockey. No big deal, I guess.
That kind of drama can take a lot out of you both physically and emotionally, so we may need to double-down on the coffee this morning. 
No worries, though, because you'll be able to rest up tonight since there's no playoff basketball or playoff hockey on for the first night in quite some time. Sad, I know. However, don't get too ahead of yourself because I'm going to need your attention for a bit first. We've got plenty to go over from last night, plus some things to look forward to in the days ahead, so rub those sleepies out of your eyes and put on your game face. It's time to go.
📰 What you need to know
1. The Clippers collapse is complete 🏀
Welp, so much for the Battle of Los Angeles in the Western Conference Final, huh?!
It seems like we've had the Lakers and Clippers penciled in for the West final since last summer but, as it turns out, we forgot to factor in the Clippers Clippering. It looked like we were going to get the LA showdown when the Clips took a 3-1 over the Nuggets and were one win away from locking it in, but, for the second straight series, Denver managed to pull off a stunning series comeback with three straight wins,

It was a rather decisive Game 7 win for the Nuggets last night, too. They pulled away late and left the Clippers looking like frauds down the stretch. Here are some takeaways from the series finale, courtesy of Colin Ward-Henninger:
  • Jokic and Murray are a superstar duo: Imagine someone telling you at the beginning of the season that a superstar duo would prove to be the difference in a Clippers-Nuggets playoffs series... and that duo wasn't Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Instead, it was Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Jokic had 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists in Game 7 while Murray added 40 points. Meanwhile, the Clippers' star duo of Leonard (14 points on 6-of-22 shooting) and George (10 points on 4-of-16 shooting) fell totally flat and went 0-11 with 0 points in the 4th quarter
  • Another Clippers collapse: The Nuggets deserve credit for coming to play and delivering when it mattered most, but maybe it's time to consider that there might be a Clippers curse. It looked like they were about to make their first WCF appearance ever, then they completely fell apart over the last three games -- they led by 16 points in Game 5, 19 points in Game 6 and 12 points in Game 7. They're now 0-8 all-time in games in which they can clinch a conference finals berth
  • Nuggets have nothing to lose: Not many people expected the Nuggets to climb out of a 3-1 hole against the Jazz, and even fewer expected them to do the same against the Clippers. Now, they've already exceeded expectations and have nothing to lose against the Lakers. They'll be underdogs again in the WCF, but they may be at their best when they're counted out and have a chip on their shoulder
By the way, that's now THREE times that a Doc Rivers-led team has squandered a 3-1 playoff series lead and lost, so that doesn't exactly reflect well on the coach. 
As for Denver... how much magic do they have left in the well? Our Brad Botkin says don't write them off because they're no fluke. 
  • Botkin: "People are penciling the Lakers in for the NBA Finals with this result, acting like Denver's upset was a blessing. Be careful what you wish for. The Denver Nuggets are no joke."
2. Allen Robinson wants out of Chicago? 🏈
We're barely a week into a brand new NFL season and already there's some drama brewing in Chicago. Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson may have asked for a trade recently, depending on who you ask. It was reported that Allen asked out due to his contract situation, but the receiver's agent has denied that while admitting Robinson is not happy with the club right now. 
Allen, 27, is in the midst of the final year of his current contract and is set to make $13 million this season, but he wants an extension and isn't thrilled that the Bears are unwilling to provide that new contract. As such, Robinson may be seeking a trade to a team that will give him some long-term security. 
If the Bears are indeed shopping him, there's probably going to be plenty of interest in a former Pro Bowler who caught 98 passes for 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Here's who Bryan DeArdo thinks might be the best fits for Allen's services: 
  • Washington Football Team: Maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves after an impressive come-from-behind Week 1 victory, but Washington might be an offensive playmaker away from actually contending for a playoff spot in what could be a wide-open NFC East.  Allen's presence could not only help young QB Dwayne Haskins, but also second-year receiver Terry McLaurin
  • Patriots: New England hasn't been shy about going out and trying to improve their receiving corps over the past few years and Allen might fit in well alongside Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry. Cam Newton only threw for 155 yards in his Pats debut so the passing game may need a little more firepower
  • Ravens: Baltimore is trying to contend for a title right now and Allen would take a little pressure off Maruise Brown and rookie Devin Duvernay while providing another weapon for Lamar Jackson
DeArdo named three other possible landing spots, but it's important to remember that it's not only about where Allen may go -- it's also about what it may cost, both in a trade return and on a new contract. 
Anyway, congratulations if you had "receiver requests trade after one week of playing with Mitch Trubisky" on your 2020 NFL season BINGO card.
3. Ed Orgeron says most LSU players already caught COVID-19 🏈
The SEC is gearing up to start its 2020 season later this month and plenty of attention will be paid to how the conference and its schools try to limit exposure to coronavirus. Most programs have been conducting COVID-19 testing since June, when players reported for voluntary workouts, and there have been several schools that have already gotten hit with outbreaks. 
It's possible that no school was hit harder than the defending champs in LSU, as Ed Orgeron revealed yesterday that "most" of his team had already contracted coronavirus.
  • Orgeron: "Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it. So I think that hopefully they don't catch it again and hopefully they are not out for games" 
  • Orgeron didn't specify how many of the 115 players on the roster actually have tested positive or when they tested positive
  • "Three or four" players are currently sidelined due to quarantine mandates
Obviously, hearing that so many of these young players caught COVID-19 is concerning (especially when we still don't really know what the long-term effects are yet) and you certainly hope the school is doing all they can to limit the outbreaks. But the truth is, the high number of positive tests already attached to the roster could potentially make things a little simpler for LSU as they try to navigate this season. 
The SEC's coronavirus policy says that players with prior positive COVID-19 infection who are within a 90-day window of symptom onset or a positive test (if asymptomatic) won't be required to quarantine if they come into contact with a person with COVID-19. The more players that are exempt from the quarantine protocols following exposure, the less chance LSU has of needing to sit players at an inopportune time. 
4. Ranking the field at Winged Foot 🏌
We've got the first major championship of this new PGA season kicking off tomorrow with the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. There's a stacked field to look forward to, and our Kyle Porter recently did his best to rank the golfers participating based on a number of factors, including recent form, recent U.S. Open performance, short game and driving accuracy. 
Here's Porter's top 10 heading into the event:
  1. Dustin Johnson
  2. Jon Rahm
  3. Justin Thomas
  4. Collin Morikawa
  5. Webb Simpson
  6. Xander Schauffele
  7. Adam Scott
  8. Rory McIlroy
  9. Patrick Reed
  10. Hideki Matsuyama
You can find some easy-to-digest analysis plus rankings 10-20 right here. 
Here's why Porter has DJ at the top:
  • Porter: "No matter how you feel about D.J. this week or at major championships in general, there is nobody else who deserves to be in this position going into the first major of the season. He's finished first or second in his last four events and has four top-five finishes at the U.S. Open in his last six tries. An indisputable favorite at Winged Foot."
For those of you wondering, no, I did not crack Porter's top 20 despite the fact that I finally shot under par in "PGA Tour 2K21" for the first time last week. Seems like an oversight, but I'll try not to take it too personally. 
📝 Odds & Ends
  • The Big Ten could be nearing an announcement that it plans to play college football in 2020
  • Steelers offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva covered the name of a police shooting victim on his helmet with name of a fallen military veteran instead. Coach Mike Tomlin said he approved the decision
  • Derek Jeter is selling his $29 million Florida mansion after renting it to Tom Brady
📺 What to watch tonight
⚾ Dodgers vs. Padres, 4:30 p.m. | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Cardinals vs. Brewers, 5:10 p.m. | MIL +117 | TV: MLB.TV
⚾ Blue Jays vs. Yankees, 7:05 p.m. | NYY -260 | TV: MLB.TV 
📝 Top scores from last night
🏀 Heat 117, Celtics 114 (OT)
Bam Adebayo had an emphatic rejection of a would-be game-tying dunk from Jayson Tatum at the rim to help preserve the Heat's Game 1 victory. Miami trailed by 14 points in the fourth quarter.
💵 Winning wagers: Heat +110, Over (209)  
🏒 Islanders 2, Lightning 1 (2OT)
Jordan Eberle scored on a two-on-one rush in double-OT to extend the Isles' season.
💵 Winning wagers: Islanders +142, Under (5)
⚾️ Yankees 20, Blue Jays 6
The Yankees extended their winning streak to six games and moved into second place in the AL East.
💵 Winning wagers: Yankees -161, Over (9)
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