LOS ANGELES – Doc Rivers vowed to spend his off day Sunday watching the championship round of the Masters and in that frenzied finale, culminating when Sergio Garcia bested Justin Rose in a playoff, the Clippers coach saw a parallel with his own team.
Like Garcia, the Clippers have been consistently good, but never won at the top level of their sport. Garcia played 73 golf majors without a title; the Clippers have qualified for the playoffs six straight seasons, but never even reached the conference finals.
So what is the value of being consistently good but not quite the best?
“Go ask Sergio,” Rivers said before the Clippers faced Houston on Monday. “You just keep going at it, that’s it. That’s sports. It really is, but the truth in a lot of ways, you keep doing it. What should we do, stop?”
Painful playoff losses to Oklahoma City and Houston. Last year’s first-round series with Portland that was derailed by injuries. After years of frustration, the Clippers later this week will try once again, opening the playoffs against the Utah Jazz.
“That’s part of the chase and being in it,” said Rivers, who coached the Boston Celtics to a title in 2008. “That’s what makes it so awesome when you do get it. And I do believe we will.”
The Clippers entered Monday’s game locked into a first-round series with the Utah Jazz and a chance to lock up the fourth seed. They also needed just one win in their final two games to notch 50 wins for the fifth straight year.
“It says that we’ve been a good team for a long time,” Rivers said. “It says that our franchise has been consistently a good franchise for a long time.”
Not that the Clippers, in Rivers’ estimation, get enough credit for what they have built.
“This franchise in particular,” he said, “more than others, if you listen to the outside noise at times, you don’t know that. This has been a very consistent franchise as far as winning games. We just haven’t been the winner and…