Rivers: Warriors lucky they didn’t face Clippers or Spurs in playoffs
The Golden State Warriors reeled off one of the most dominant seasons in NBA history in 2014-15. They dominated the regular season, winning 67 games by 10.1 points per game, and then ran through the playoffs, only losing five times and never really having a series lead in doubt.
So to call them "lucky" would seem somewhat of a stretch. With that said, the most common criticism of the Warriors has been their path to the championship.
They faced a depleted New Orleans Pelicans team, a Memphis Grizzlies squad with an injured Mike Conley and then a Houston Rockets squad that was missing two starters (Patrick Beverly and Donatas Motiejunas) and had another one banged up (Dwight Howard). To top it all off, Kevin Love never suited up for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, and Kyrie Irving got inured in Game 2.
The Warriors, meanwhile, had near-pristine health. They caught a few breaks here and there, sure, but that’s something every championship team does. The Warriors can’t control whom they played — they could only control if they beat them.
But Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who has been a central figure in the Clippers-Warriors rivalry since joining L.A. in 2013, said the Warriors were overly fortunate to not have to face his team or the San Antonio Spurs — the perceived biggest threat to the Dubs — in the postseason.
“You need luck in the West,” Rivers told Zach Lowe of Grantland.com in a recent interview. “Look at Golden State. They didn’t have to play us or the Spurs. But that’s also a lesson for us: When you have a chance to close, you have to do it.”
The Clippers defeated the Spurs in an epic seven-game series in the first round, before blowing a 3-1 series lead over the Rockets and collapsing in the playoffs for the second straight year.
The Warriors would’ve been the favorite in a series with either the Clippers or Spurs, but both would’ve provided more of a challenge than the Rockets — at least in theory — who lost in five games and clearly couldn’t keep up with the Warriors.
“The more I tried to process it, the angrier I got,” Clippers guard J.J. Redick told Lowe. “I’m not saying we definitely would have beaten Golden State, but if you make the conference finals, you have a chance. I’ve given up trying to explain what happened.
“The championship window in the West is so narrow. Ours might only be open another couple of years. But you need some breaks. Golden State was the best team in the league, but they also had everything go right for them. They didn’t have one bad break. I don’t have any doubt about the DNA of our team.”
With the Clippers indirectly discrediting the Warriors’ success — or directly, depending on how you interpret Rivers’ comments — their four highly anticipated matchups will be even better this season.
(h/t CSN Bay Area)