Depending on who you ask, the Los Angeles Clippers were either the biggest disappointment of the postseason or a team that ended up right where they were headed all along if you were paying attention to the red flags. Either way, they’re out, and now the franchise faces big questions as they look toward the future.
They made the first major change earlier this week when they announced that they were parting ways with head coach Doc Rivers. In some ways, it was an inevitable move given Rivers’ repeated failure to get several talented iterations of the team to a Western Conference Finals appearance.
With those past failures looming large, it now appears that Rivers was already on the hot seat going into the playoffs. Despite what Paul George would have you believe, it was championship or bust for a team that had gone all in this season to try to win their first title in franchise history. And now, it turns out that’s the only thing that could’ve saved Rivers’ job.
Aside from the underwhelming results, the Clippers identified troubling patterns in the collapses. If anything, the separation was probably years in the making. Even if the Clippers had lost deeper in the postseason, say, to the Lakers in the conference finals or to the Heat in the finals, Rivers likely would not have been back next season.
During his tenure in Los Angeles, the Clippers won just three total postseason series. Rivers also holds an NBA record for coaching three teams that have blown a 3-1 series lead in the playoffs, the second of which came against Rockets in the second round in 2015.
Even by the more generous assessments, it’s a questionable postseason track record that certainly detracts from all of his overall success as an NBA coach, and it remains to be seen what the next move in his career might be.