The Clippers have never reached a conference finals. Chris Paul, including his time in New Orleans, has never reached a conference finals.
Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers, via Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
“You should never run from the truth. That’s true,” Rivers said. “But getting past the second round is such a [expletive] goal. That’s not my goal. My goal is to be the winner. So, to be the winner, part of that is getting past the second round. The second round talk does nothing for me. The endgame is being the winner.”
Will they finally crack through?
By poaching Kevin Durant from the Thunder, the Warriors both made it more likely the Clippers make the conference finals and less likely the Clippers win the West. For a team just looking to incrementally improve its perception, that’s a decent tradeoff. For a team set on a championship, the road is harder with Golden State blocking the path.
I’d give the Clippers plenty of credit for besting a solid field, led by the Spurs, to finish runner-up to the Warriors in the West this year. That’d be a solid season and temporarily change the discussion about Paul and the Clippers.
But, as Rivers knows, the goalposts just move. Sooner or later, Paul and the Clippers have to win a title to end the criticism.
They’re embracing that and going for it.