In early October, just after these Los Angeles Clippers began preparing to chase a championship for the fifth consecutive season, Doc Rivers said 2015-16 could be his team’s last run.
“We’re right on the borderline,” he told Grantland’s Zach Lowe. “I have no problem saying that. I’m a believer that teams can get stale. After a while, you don’t win. It just doesn’t work. We’re right at the edge. Oklahoma City is on the edge. Memphis, too. We just have to accept it.”
The time for that acceptance might finally be here for the Clippers, who were eliminated from the playoffs on Friday night after a Game 6 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Los Angeles became the first team in league history to lose a postseason series in which they led by two games three out of four years. That depressing reality, though, ignores crucial context of the Clippers’ defeat to Portland – which could serve as further justification for keeping this group together at least one more year.
After the game, an emotional Rivers veered from his training-camp rhetoric by suggesting Los Angeles would try like hell to bring the band back.
“I like our team,” he said, courtesy of ESPN’s Arash Markazi. “Our bench was fantastic this year. The problem is we have a lot of free agents on our team and I think a lot of them are going to be attractive, and so we have to fight to keep our own first and then try to build from that point. We’re going to have a difficult time. It’s going to be tough.”