The Los Angeles Clippers stand a good chance of being crowned this season’s NBA champions, and in a year without normal, that would be entirely fitting.
I don’t know if the NBA‘s players will all pack into boats and sing “It’s a small world after all” or if Space Mountain will be made available. Perhaps all the teams will tour Spaceship Earth and arrive at verdicts somewhat true but also fairly false about the sum of human progress. Maybe everyone will gather at the Country Bear Jamboree and clap and stomp. Maybe Splash Mountain will provide aquatic rejuvenation and a release from the tensions that exist outside the Magic Kingdom. Who knows? Who even knows if this is the best-case scenario in a field of rot?
The NBA was already looking for a way to tinker with normal prior to the season’s start, and the year has most definitely not been kind to normal thus far. And, as Gerald Bourguet discusses here, a finished NBA season will not necessarily save us. For better or worse, it can really only distract us from deathly pandemics and seeking justice. Maybe we need such distractions. Maybe we don’t. One could imagine this scenario as hopeful allegory; after all, to a degree, that’s how The Last Dance was received. And yet that view would be incomplete — inaccurate even. The wheels are in motion, and the sport has fully conjoined with an amusement park — a leviathan of monopolized entertainment. What does any of this mean? Who knows? It could work beautifully, but it could also feel like a trip to Pleasure Island in Pinochio, as if something in the air isn’t quite right, as if feigning normalcy is a surefire way to be a jackass. Again, who knows?
What we do know is that 22 teams will head for Orlando, Florida. That means eight of the league’s 30 teams have already been eliminated. Each team playing in Disney World will play eight more games that will conclude the regular season and decide who will compete in the playoffs. If the ninth-place team in a conference is within four games of the eighth-place team, then those teams will meet in play-in series. The eighth-place team would make the playoffs with one victory over the ninth-place team, and the ninth-place team would need to win two consecutive games in such a scenario. The Los Angeles Clippers will not be in such a scenario. The Los Angeles Clippers are already in the playoffs.
No NBA team improved its roster last offseason more than the Los Angeles Clippers. And while much has changed in the world outside basketball since those moves were made, the competitive edge garnered by those moves is as great as it ever was.
Only the Milwaukee Bucks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Toronto Raptors are currently ahead of the Clippers in the NBA regular season standings. When the season was put on pause and teetered on the brink of never being completed, the team’s record stood at 44-20, or five and a half games behind the Los Angeles Lakers and a game and a half ahead of the Denver Nuggets. Most likely that means the Clippers will enter the playoffs as either the second or third seed in the Western Conference.
Why could the Los Angeles Clippers win it all this year?
Given the mass of contexts surrounding this abnormal finish to the season, a person paying any attention to the Wide World of Sports could feel an infinite number of ways about how these games should be received and whether they should even be played. Maybe it’s an act of cowardice, but I’m not really here to argue those claims. I’m simply here to give five reasons why I think the Clippers could win it all. Call it a cop-out, but my brain needs to think about something other than the end of the world as we know it. I enjoy myth-making dunks, dagger 3s, and unexpected defense. I am after a fairy tale’s rapture.