The Clippers are off to a 3-1 start to the season, but no one has exactly begun to plan a parade route through downtown Los Angeles just yet.
All three victories were underwhelming, at best. The first came against a Thunder team that was already playing without Kevin Durant, and lost Russell Westbrook during the contest to a broken hand injury. The second came against a Lakers team whose defense is the worst in the league by far, yet that was a one-possession game until J.J. Redick’s free throws sealed it with just 15 seconds remaining. And after losing to Sacramento on Sunday, the Clippers gave back all of a 15-point second half lead before pulling away late to beat the Jazz on Monday.
L.A. has plenty of issues to iron out this young season, the biggest of which appears to be finding a cohesiveness on the defensive end of the floor. But Doc Rivers believes one of them is the fact that his guys are spending far too much time worrying about the officiating, and he’d like to see it stop.
Rivers on Monday was queried as to whether he believes his players are being too demonstrative on the court with the referees. There was no diplomacy in his response.
“Probably, yeah,” he said ahead of his team’s game against the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. “Well, (Sunday), I think as a team we were, for sure. We’ve got to get to playing. You know, I’ll do all the antics if they need me to do them.
“But I just think the players have to play. I just find it very difficult to play and ref. I think that’s really hard to do. I think we’ve gotta pick one or the other.”
Blake Griffin was tied for the league lead in technical fouls last season, but has yet to pick one up this year. DeAndre Jordan already has two, however, and Chris Paul has one through the first four games of the season.
What you don’t want as a head coach is for your players to get a reputation of being constant complainers with the officials, to the point where referees completely stop listening to legitimate complaints. Rivers senses that his team might be reaching that status, and it’s wise of him to address it early on in order to prevent this from becoming something that lingers as the season progresses.