NBA Playoff Teams Under Pressure

Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are part of the playoff teams under pressure

Every season, certain teams fall short of expectations in the postseason. While this can happen to any team, over the past few postseasons certain teams have consistently disappointed. Maybe it’s bad luck with injuries, maybe it’s a psychological thing, or maybe it’s an unlucky bounce. This year, these teams are trying to rewrite the narrative that has been haunting them. The Clippers, Bucks, and Sixers are the playoff teams under pressure.

NBA Playoff Teams Under Pressure

Los Angeles Clippers

There isn’t a team under more scrutiny this postseason than the Los Angeles Clippers. After acquiring superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the summer of 2019, the consensus was that the Clippers would be instant title contenders. They finished with the second-best record in the western conference before care of the Mavericks in the first round. They then went up 3-1 in the conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets before losing in seven games. This season, the Clippers are currently down 2-1 to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. With the franchise never having made it to the conference finals and blowing two 3-1 leads in the conference semifinals (2015 and 2020 playoffs), the pressure is on. If the Clippers lose in the first round this year, expect drastic changes this offseason.

Milwaukee Bucks

Another team that desperately needs a strong postseason is the Bucks. In the 2018-19 season, the Bucks won 60 games and finished first in the Eastern Conference. They then famously blew a 2-0 lead in the conference finals to the Toronto Raptors, who went on to win the championship. Last season, the Bucks ran it back with the same core of players and once again finished first in the East. In the second round, they would go on to lose to the four-seed Miami Heat 4-1 in a monumental upset. This offseason, the Bucks traded starting point guard Eric Bledsoe to the Pelicans for Jrue Holiday to elevate the team’s performance in the postseason. As of right now, the Bucks are up 3-0 on the Miami Heat in the first round. While they aren’t expected to beat the Brooklyn Nets in the second round, an appearance in the conference finals would alleviate some concerns fans have about Giannis Antetokounmpo succeeding in the playoffs.

Philadelphia 76ers

While not as bad as the two aforementioned teams, the Sixers still need a deep playoff run this postseason. They have not made it to a conference finals since the 2000-01 season when Allen Iverson took an undermanned Sixers squad to the NBA Finals. However, the Sixers have had some unfortunate luck in recent years come playoff time. In 2019, they lost in the second round in game seven on a last-second shot by Kawhi Leonard. Last year, they were swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics after Ben Simmons dislocated his kneecap and missed the entire series. This year, the Sixers have no excuse not to go far. They are the number one seed in the east and have all the components of a championship team. If the Sixers can’t make it out of the second round once again, it will be fair to question if the Joel Embiid-Ben Simmons combination can get it done.

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