Clippers searching for playoff focus

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: Thunder-Clippers: Game 4 Preview

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. – Someone pointed out to coach Doc Rivers on Saturday that the Clippers have never won a playoff series after trailing 2-1, the very deficit Rivers’ team now faces against the Thunder.

“Well,” Rivers responded, “we haven’t been in a lot of playoffs.”

Which is a good thing.

And a problem.

The Clippers who have already gone where most franchise ancestors never did during years of becoming very familiar with the lottery format — OK, during decades of becoming very familiar — can easily dismiss most postseason historical benchmarks. But at the same time they cannot avoid the introspection that the lack of previous playoff experience together has contributed to needing a win Sunday at Staples Center to avoid stepping to the brink of elimination.

“That’s the urgency you have to play with in the playoffs and, quite honestly, I think we’ve been in and out in that,” Rivers said at the team’s practice facility. “That’s right now the lessons we’re learning. You can still keep getting better, as I said all through the playoffs. That’s why you don’t panic. You just keep getting better and you keep pushing. I do think that’s the one advantage Oklahoma has had on us in this series. They have several guys that have been all the way to the Finals and they get it. They get the urgency of every single possession and we’ve been in and out in that, throughout the playoffs. For us to keep going, we have to get that every-possession urgency defensively and even offensively. We scored 112 [in Game 3], but we took off 15 possessions where we were running it but we didn’t run it crisply, we didn’t get to the right spots. We took shortcuts. Those are the things you just can’t do. I think our guys are quickly understanding that. I thought last night that point alone was beaten into us.”

Hammered into the Clippers by the Thunder showing composure down the stretch in a close game on the road, whacked into the Clippers by committing six turnovers and scoring 112 points and still losing, thumped into the Clippers by their coach’s words the next day as part of the preparation for Game 5 on Sunday.

“If we did it 100 percent of the time then I would say we don’t need to get better, we’re not learning anymore,” Blake Griffin said. “But, yeah, we have lapses, especially here and there. It’s something that we’re still working on.”

With the understanding, of course, that they need to play with more focus very soon or they will have all summer to work on the problem.

“There’s growth with every team,” Rivers said. “Miami will grow in the playoffs. I’ve said that all year and I think people don’t really get that. You grow during the playoffs. You learn. You get beat and you learn and you get better or you go home. It’s one of those two things. That’s part of the process and you have to be willing to take it, understand it, process it and then move on.”

Or move forward. Then the Clippers would have another postseason benchmark.

13 Comments

  1. Liam S says:

    Am I the only who finds it strange that Chris Paul constantly gets called the best Point Guard in the NBA, and seems immune to people questioning whether he’s a choker when he has never gone to the Conference finals, getting to the dance only to bounced early. Carmelo has been labeled by many as not a winner for that reason (and he’s at least been to a conference finals). Dwight Howard isn’t considered a winner and he put an inferior team on his back and made it to the finals, yet Chris Paul who has never even been the Conference Finals is a winner and a superstar

    • justsayin says:

      Probably his many clutch performances are why no one calls him that.

      And there’s no fault in losing to a better TEAM in the playoffs – it doesnt come down to one guy. And hasn’t he spent most of his time in N.O.? Put the Clips okc or Spurs in the East they’d make the finals. West is no cakewalk.

    • allaroundballer says:

      Yeah I get it. I think it’s the way cp3 play, he makes the RIGHT things to do on court as a playmaker. He’s like a little version of lebron. But unfortunately west conference is much tougher

    • Banks says:

      That’s the truest comment I ever heard on blogs….i agree 200%

    • Common Sense says:

      Same thing with the argument of Lebron is no Kobe because he only has 2 rings. Rings are important but they are a team measurement not a player measurement.

    • Common Sense says:

      yeah, and Michael Jordan will never measure up to Jim Loscutoff, because Jim had 7 rings. Rings are team measurements, not player measurements. Paul is the best POINT GUARD in the NBA, not best champion

  2. Clebes says:

    Sports is a constant surprise. When it wins is the best, howerver, if it losses is the worst. I do not understand the commentators.

  3. okc2014 says:

    But the one thing you are forgetting to say (and yes, they need to win today to make it 2-2) is that the major barrier to winning, is the Flippers have no answer for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook! Go Thunder!

  4. Time is now as the shirt says.DJ and Blake need to step up on defense and the boards. No more easy back door layups.CP3 has to start out shooting and get ahead of the Thunder. He is really they key to get everyone going.

  5. Laker Fan says:

    I’m always shocked for some stupid reason on how the media do this. The clippers stole one in Oklahoma, and the Thunder stole it back. So as far as playoffs are concerned they are even. If the Clippers win the next game AT HOME then they are 2-2 and back to Oklahoma where they know they can win. This is exactly what happened to Golden State except golden state need a few more points in game 7. It seems to me that this series is likely to go 7 games, big shock!
    Anyone that wants to beat the Thunder probably will need 7 games..period