The Clippers' season-long mantra was "It's time." But it wasn't. They advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the second time in three seasons but fell short again, this time losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games. Here's how they graded out in the postseason.
The Clippers' big men controlled the Golden State series, but they generally struggled against the Thunder. Center DeAndre Jordan, when he wasn't picking up needless fouls, didn't control the backboards against the equally big OKC frontcourt. Blake Griffin was tough offensively, averaging 23.8 points against the Thunder, and thrived when the Clippers went with a smaller lineup. Matt Barnes did an effective job defensively on Kevin Durant, but no one really stops Durant. Grade: C+
Rightly or wrongly, Chris Paul will be remembered for his meltdown in Game 5, turning the ball over twice in the final critical moments and committing a foul that resulted in the deciding points. But the Clippers wouldn't have gotten as far as they did without him, and the notion he's not a big-game player is silly. His defense is relentless, but his ability to control his play in key moments needs work. J.J. Redick played well at times but was a non-factor at others. His outside shooting can trigger a team. Grade: B.
The Clippers' regular-season success was partly the result of their bench play, but there was too much inconsistency in the postseason. Sixth man of the year Jamal Crawford never found his outside scoring touch, and Darren Collison had one monumental game, but contributions from others were spotty. The best work was probably done by Glen "Big Baby" Davis, who gave the Clippers an offensive boost with his nice touch around the basket. Grade: C.
Mark D. Smith
Forgive Doc Rivers for his postgame blowup after the Clippers wasted a 13-point fourth-quarter lead in Game 5. After all he'd been through – speaking for the franchise during the Donald Sterling episode – maybe it was his way of letting off steam. Rivers did an exceptional job keeping his players focused and taking a restrained tone during the worst of times. He shouldn't be criticized for sticking up for his players. Grade A.
It's doubtful any team has ever had to deal with the kind of commotion the Clippers did in their playoff series against the Warriors and Thunder. Their sense of camaraderie and coach Doc Rivers' calming hand got them through. The players insisted they were able to focus on basketball, but really, how could they avoid the turmoil that seemed to follow them before and after every game? Give them credit for getting as far as they did. Grade A.
Andrew D. Bernstein
No one could have anticipated the kind of season it would become -- not Doc Rivers, not his players, no anyone associated with the team. The Clippers expected to make a deeper run through the playoffs -- maybe all the way to the NBA Finals -- but the emotional weight of the Donald Sterling mess undoubtedly brought them down. Final grade: B.