Call it the Clippers’ curse if you want, but players in the locker room will be quick to tell you none of them were in this locker room for all those ugly playoff losses of the past. They insist things are different.
It hasn’t felt different the last two games when the Los Angeles Clippers blew a 16, and then a 19 point lead to Denver to force a Game 7 on Tuesday. It’s felt like the Clippers gonna Clipper. Doc Rivers laid the blame at the feet of his team.
“We’re here because we put ourselves here,” Rivers said on Monday. “You can look at that in a good way or a bad way, but it is what it is… This team didn’t have any experiences, and so they’re learning everything right now.”
What experiences are behind the Clippers’ second-half collapses?
“There’s no secret like potion that something happened,” Rivers said. “The two things that we didn’t do. Clearly defensively, they shot almost 60 percent in the second half. The one thing that did stand out, they went to the free-throw line like on every play…
“And give Denver credit because they understood that and they started being aggressive. What I see the most is our pace offensively. Some of that is because they’re scoring, but some of that I thought was self-inflicted. And then defensively, we have to be better.”
The Clippers have not been consistent the past two games (actually, a lot longer than that). They look like a team that never had the chance to build chemistry — which is exactly what they are. Los Angeles just kind of runs its offense but does not hunt mismatches or relentlessly attack them when they get them (as Denver has done to L.A.). The Clippers lose defensive focus for stretches, plus Patrick Beverley keeps getting in foul trouble.
Denver is too good to do that against.
“Give them credit; they are playing hard,” Rivers said. “We’re playing the third best team in the West, and they’re good, they’re relentless, resilient…
“But what we’ve done to get the leads has worked continuously, and then when we stop doing it.”
If the Clippers stop doing those things on Tuesday their season — and dreams of a title — will end in the second round. And talk of the Clippers curse will grow louder.