Sports Illustrated declared the Buffalo Braves “better than ever” entering the 1974-75 season. But Braves coach Jack Ramsay preached caution.
“I’m reluctant to vault us into the higher echelons,” Ramsay said. “We have to prove we can beat tough teams. It’s an uphill battle.”
Ramsay’s warning proved prophetic. Buffalo failed to reach even the conference finals, losing by 19 to the Washington Bullets in Game 7 of the previous round.
Bigger humiliations would follow.
The franchise moved to San Diego then Los Angeles, renaming itself the Clippers. They usually lost. Expectations were typically low.
But this year was supposed to be different. The Los Angeles Clippers turned themselves into a force by signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George last summer. Or it seemed.
Instead, the Clippers merely shifted their heartache into a new form. The latest torment? Blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the second round.
The Clippers, nee Braves, have played 50 seasons in the NBA. They’ve never reached the conference finals or division finals.
That’s the longest drought from the semifinal round in league history.
The Hawks snapped a tie with the Clippers by making 2015 Eastern Conference finals. L.A.’s skid continues.
Here are the longest conference/division-finals droughts in NBA history:
The Clippers franchise is now 0-8 with an opportunity to reach the conference finals.
In addition to Buffalo’s Game 7 loss in 1975, the Clippers also lost a Game 7 in 2006. The loss to Denver wasn’t even the only time the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead in the second round. That also happened against the Rockets in 2015.
“You never want to equate sports with death,” then-Clippers guard J.J. Redick said afterward. “But it does feel like a wake or a funeral.”
Unfortunately for the Clippers, that wasn’t the end.
The misery continues.