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Saturday, May 10, 2014
Doc: Clips need 'every-possession urgency'

By Arash Markazi

LOS ANGELES -- Doc Rivers smiled when he was told the Los Angeles Clippers have never come back from a 2-1 playoff series deficit in team history.

“You mean in the four times,” Rivers said. “Any of those stats don’t matter. If you said the Lakers or the Celtics, then that would matter. With us, at least those historical playoffs things, [it doesn’t resonate] here.”

It’s no secret the Clippers don’t have much of a playoff history. Even if they were to win Sunday’s Game 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers have lost five of six best-of-seven series when tied 2-2. And they have never advanced past the second round.

Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers cares less about the Clippers' meager playoff history and more about the tough lessons his players are learning in their series against the more-grizzled Thunder.

In fact, the Clippers registered just 11 total playoff wins from 1977 until Chris Paul arrived in 2011. Since then, the Clippers have won 11 playoff games in three seasons.

Yes, the Clippers have made great strides. But they still have yet to win more than one game in the second round.

There is only one player on their roster -- Glen Davis -- who has won a title, and he’s a reserve. Only one starter -- J.J. Redick -- has played in the NBA Finals.

At some point, the Clippers believe, they can get to the conference finals and the Finals and win a title. But their lack of experience in these moments is often exposed while going up against an Oklahoma City team that has enjoyed repeated success over the past five seasons, including a trip to the Finals.

“That’s the one advantage Oklahoma has had on us,” Rivers said. “They have several guys that have been all the way to the Finals, and they get it. They get the urgency of every single possession. We’ve been in and out of that throughout the playoffs. For us to keep going, we have to get that every-possession urgency.

“Offensively we scored 112 points [Friday], but we took off 15 possessions where we were running it but we weren’t running it crisply. We didn’t get to the right spots; we took shortcuts. Those are the things you just can’t do, and I think our guys are quickly understanding that. That point alone was beaten into us.”

It’s all part of the process and growth Rivers has talked about with the Clippers since arriving last summer. As much as he wanted to win a title in his first season, he also wanted the Clippers to take strides in learning how to become championship contenders.

When Rivers heard Paul call Game 4 a “must-win” game, he said that’s how Paul and the Clippers should approach every game and every possession in the postseason.

“I think Games 1, 2 and 3 were must wins,” Rivers said. “I honestly think that’s the urgency you have to play with in the playoffs, and I think we’ve been in and out of that. That’s, right now, the lessons we’re learning. You can still keep getting better through the playoffs. That’s why you don’t panic. You keep getting better and you keep pushing. There’s growth with every team.

“Miami will grow during the playoffs. You grow during the playoffs. You learn. You get beat and you learn, and you get better or you go home; it’s one of those two things. That’s part of the process. You have to be willing to take it, understand it, process it and move on.”

Despite being down 2-1 in their series against Oklahoma City, the Clippers weren’t too concerned after practice on Saturday. L.A. was down 1-0 to the Golden State Warriors and won its first-round series.

The Clippers also showed they could win on the road -- twice, including a Game 7 -- two years ago against the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Clippers still feel good about their chances versus OKC, but those hopes largely rely on tying the series up on Sunday here at home.

“We put ourselves in a hole, but we just have to correct some of our mistakes,” Blake Griffin said. “We came back from this situation down 1-0. It has turned, but it’s not like we’re down 3-0. We’re down 2-1 and we got another game at home.

“We need to correct our mistakes, but it’s nothing to hang our heads about or be down about. We have a chance to even it up Sunday.”