The Clippers have to stop pretending they’ve accomplished something
The Clippers carry themselves like a team with a long and impressive history of postseason success, when the reality is they’re anything but. L.A. is cruising through the regular season as if the team knows it can flip a switch once the playoffs begin, when at no time in recent history has it demonstrated an ability to do so.
The confidence Doc Rivers attempts to project publicly, that everything is just fine despite the Clippers being closer to sixth place in the Western Conference standings than they are to fourth, is simply ridiculous.
Before losing a close one at home on Wednesday to (an admittedly surging) Milwaukee Bucks team that’s below .500 on the season, Rivers denied the fact that his squad is struggling, while wondering why the Warriors and Cavaliers aren’t undergoing a similar level of scrutinization.
“To me, I like where we’re at,” Rivers said told reporters, via the L.A. Times. “I would like to be playing better, but I think we will. I have a lot of confidence in where we’re headed. So, I don’t look at it as negative as the outside world looks at it.”
“I don’t think we are struggling. I think we’re playing OK. We’re not playing great. I just think there are times, and I’m just being honest, we’re looked at in a different lens. I don’t think Golden State is worried about struggling right now. It’s part of the season. Cleveland has lost four out of five, but for whatever reason, if we don’t play great, it’s a different lens. I don’t get that.”
The Clippers had to deal with injuries to key players early in the season, but they’re fully healthy now and have dropped seven of their last 12 games. More important, the teams Rivers mentioned just happened to make it to the Finals in each of the last two seasons, while L.A. has never in franchise history made it past the postseason’s second round.
It’s possible that Rivers believes the version of his team we saw to begin the season will re-emerge just in time for the playoffs; the Clippers did briefly look like title contenders while getting off to a 14-2 start. He better hope that happens, because both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin can become unrestricted free agents this summer, and another early playoff exit may cause the superstar duo to more carefully consider their options.
There’s no historical precedent, however, that shows L.A. is capable of flipping the proverbial switch.