The Los Angeles Clippers find themselves with their back to the walls, one loss away from elimination. Doc Rivers is being questioned with the word overrated is being thrown around. No one is happy with the officiating, and DeAndre Jordan can’t escape the free throw nightmare.
So is Doc Rivers overrated? Did he win an NBA championship because of the talent he had under him? It doesn’t matter. Two wins in the close games and the Clippers are in the semifinals, and no one is talking about Rivers’ credentials. And he might not be the X’s and O’s genius some think every coach should be. He connects with the players. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been making mistakes.
One problem of Rivers, maybe more than any other head coach in the league, is his whining attitude. It’s not just about other teams and officials. He likes throwing his team and players under the bus when things go wrong. It’s never about the mistakes he made. The Clippers lost in game 5 of last season’s conference semifinals because of referees. It didn’t pull them together. Rivers needs this loss, which the Clippers blame on the officials, to be something that brings his team into a more focused, responsible place, and not tear them apart.
One interesting reaction, according to Bill Simmons, was Blake Griffin during the game; getting so mad at Bill Kennedy that he stared him down and spat on the floor in an action of dissent. Just remember something. Referees are people, which means getting hated on by one side so clearly can make them even more one-sided in their calls.
Maybe the most frustrated player in this series is DeAndre Jordan, getting the hack-a-Jordan treatment. Some guys, like Matt Bonner, do it gently. It doesn’t make Jordan feel any better with himself. He’s shooting just 36.7% from the line in this series, averaging 9.8 attempts per game, and costing his team 6.2 points per game with his misses on average.
Just in game 5 alone, his misses caused a 16-7 point swing. The Spurs run an offense, while the Clippers go to the line. And then again. But there’s nothing the Clippers can do. Maybe this summer there will be a rule change about the matter, which will include technical fouls and other punishments. Until then, either bench him or Jordan needs to start hitting his shots.
Screwed or not by the officials, it’s quite clear that if the Los Angeles Clippers keep focusing on how they got slighted in game by the officials and how unfair it is that the Spurs keep fouling DeAndre Jordan, they’re not going to come back from this 2-3 hole. As we’ve said a number of times: They have the talent to beat the Spurs, but talent alone isn’t enough.