Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers gave up another humiliating lead, this time in their second matchup of the season against the undefeated Golden State Warriors.
The Clippers, who entered Thursday night’s game with a 6-4 season record, had a chance to defeat the 12-0 Warriors in front of a roaring Los Angeles crowd.
It’s well documented how much these teams hate each other. And ever since it’s been going on, it’s fuelled the league’s most heated rivalry.
This game was no different.
But like many times before, the Clippers found themselves on the losing side of the final box score after holding a convincing lead.
It was such a typical Clippers collapse, that it had Blake Griffin doubting the capability of his team to compete with the best in the West.
“I wouldn’t call this a rivalry. They’re the better team. They have the upper hand.”
Making it easy to question: if Rivers can’t get this deep Clippers squad to be elite when it truly matters, does anything really matter for the team with “championship or nothing” aspirations?
In their 124-117 loss, Rivers continued to let his team slip against the Warriors, and having Paul Pierce part of the the roster wasn’t going to change that.
When the Clippers went up by 23 points at the 7:25 mark of the second quarter, everything looked like it was going as planned for coach Rivers. They had gotten Steph Curry in early foul trouble, forcing Luke Walton to bench him early in the game.
Chris Paul also went berserk, shooting 7-7 from the field in the first quarter, scoring the first 18 of his eventual 35 points that night.
All Rivers had to do was pace a Clippers team that desperately needed this win as a confidence booster. The Clippers were able to do so for the majority of the game, even holding a 112-102 lead with 5:09 left to play in the fourth.
But that was the last time the Clippers were in control, finishing the game by witnessing a 22-5 run by the red hot Warriors.
It wasn’t only the reigning MVP in Chef Curry doing the damage, who ended the game with another 40-point showcase.
It was a team performance that stormed the Clippers off their own home court. Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andre Iguoadala combined for 73 points. The most important buckets coming from their combined 6-6 from three-point range in the fourth quarter.
Their defence was nothing but up to par with their offence, holding Blake Griffin and Chris Paul to a combined 3-11 from the field in the final frame.
Of course, this also speaks to the level of basketball the Warriors are playing. But if the Clippers organization have of any intention of winning a championship this season, they’ll need to be able to beat the best to be the best.
Right now, they look far from it.
Since the start of last season, Doc Rivers & Co. are 1-5 in their rivalry against the Warriors. In their previous 25 games against last year’s Western Conference playoff teams, they are 12-13.
Part of their sub-par campaign is their Western Conference semi-finals loss to the Houston Rockets, a series that still haunts this Clippers core. After being up 3-1 and then losing a 19-point lead in a series clinching Game 6, the Clippers seem to be their own biggest enemy.
In the wild wild West, games are tough and winning a championship is even tougher. It’s what caused the firing of former Rockets head coach, Kevin McHale
Despite McHale orchestrating last year’s demoralizing loss to the Clippers, he now finds himself unemployed because of not being able to bring out the best in his players
If Rivers can’t do the same, is there any point of having him around?
All stats for this article are from NBA.com
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