Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is upset with the mental toughness, or lack thereof, of his team as well as their play on the defensive side of the court, which is a far cry from the elite level that they have flashed in the past.
The Clippers dropped a thriller to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4, and Mavs superstar Luka Doncic put in an incredible performance where he seemed unstoppable at times, including hitting a step-back 3 pointer at the buzzer in overtime to cap off the win for Dallas.
“Honestly, I thought we were very emotionally weak tonight,” Rivers said, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “If I knew [why], I would be Sigmund Freud. But at the end of the day, we’re up 20, and we’re getting technical fouls. Things like that give the team juice. Throughout — and I’ve been saying this for three games now — we’re so much better than what we’re playing. But honestly, give Dallas credit. … They’re minus [Kristaps] Porzingis. But they just kept playing. They played together. They moved the ball.
“And you can see the difference in spirit. Like, they make a run, and everybody’s excited. You know, they make a run on us, and we cave in. So that’s on all of us. Me, too. I’ve got to get our guys right.”
The Clippers seemed to be in control, with a win in reach during the second quarter as they built a 54-33 lead, but the Mavs came back in a big way, outscoring the Clippers 51-21 to take an 84-75 lead with 3:46 left in the third quarter.
Rivers was then asked what the heartbreaking loss would do to the Clippers mentally.
“We’re fine that way,” Rivers said. “We gotta play better. Listen, defensively, without Porzingis, they scored 135 points, and we’re supposed to be an elite defensive team. Right now we’re not. … They just stared us in the face and beating us off the dribble.”
“Give them credit,” Clippers forward Paul George said. “They’re playing well, they’re defending, they’re shooting the ball, Luka is playing phenomenal — you gotta give credit where credit is due. But to be honest, in hindsight, if I shoot the ball better, this series would be a lot different.”
Rivers didn’t like what he saw defensively from his team.
“I don’t think we’ve been a great individual defensive team,” Rivers stated. “I think we’ve been passive. … Give them credit. They’re so much the more physical and the more aggressive team. It’s not even close.”