Culver City Observer -

The Clippers Feel A Sense Of Urgency

But Playoffs Are Just Beginning

 

April 21, 2016

By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

After the Clippers won their first two playoff games this week Chris Paul had his mind on what happened in last season's playoffs.

"Considering how last season ended for us there's a sense of urgency now," he replied.

The Clippers won home games from the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday and Wednesday. They'll play Games 3 and 4 in the first round playoff series Saturday and Monday nights in Portland.

The Clippers were granted two home playoff games because they did better than the Trail Blazers in the regular season.

"We're supposed to win the home games,' said Paul.

But, oh my, that didn't happen in the Clippers' second round series a year ago when they lost a 19-point second half lead to the Houston Rockets.

The Clippers had a 3-1 series lead but lost the next three. Including that shocking defeat in Game 6 at Staples Center which led to their elimination. Had they won they would have qualified for the Western Conference Finals for the first time in their history.

Reporters have asked Blake Griffin about the need to finish off the Trail Blazers without allowing this series to become dramatic.

Griffin recalled that the Clippers had a 2-0 lead on Memphis three years ago but lost that series too.

"It's important to avoid going seven games in the first round even if we win," he said. "To conserve our energy."

One reason for the Clippers to be optimistic now is the vast improvement of their reserves over last season.

Doc Rivers is not only the coach but also the main guy in deciding who'll be on the squad. Last summer he focused on bringing in new talent to support the starters

In Game 2 Wednesday Clipper reserves took command in the second half. Austin Rivers provided a spark, Cole Aldrich gave DeAndre Jordan a comfortable rest and Paul, on the bench for a brief rest, encouraged Coach Rivers to leave the second unit in longer than planned.

"We saw that they were rolling," said Paul.

"The reserves were great," said Griffin.

The Clippers are focused and don't give any hints of looking ahead to the second round when they'd most likely play Golden State, which just compiled the best regular season record in NBA history - 73-9.

Some surprising series losses in the past appear to have brought focus to the Clippers now.

"We're more experienced," said Griffin.

The Clippers' momentum is building. But how far they can go this time remains to be seen.

This season they're favored to win the first round again but they would be a considerable underdog against the Warriors in the second round.

So there truly is a sense of urgency now.

 

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