LOS ANGELES – For the Clippers, the return of the postseason means a reminder of their failures, the painful and fluky exits from the playoffs in three straight seasons.
“At moments,” Jamal Crawford said, “you’re like, ‘This is frustrating, to keep going out like this, to keep having good regular seasons and keep going out like this – whether it be through injury or self-inflicted (wounds).’”
The Clippers, more than any other team, have playoff demons. In 2014, Chris Paul turned the ball over twice in the final minute of Game 5 against Oklahoma City as the Clippers coughed up a seven-point lead.
A year later, it was a 19-point lead versus Houston in a closeout game that evaporated in the fourth quarter.
Last season? They never had a chance after Paul and Blake Griffin suffered season-ending injuries in Game 4 of a first-round series against Portland.
Next up: Utah, in a series that will start Saturday.
The Clippers have playoff demons, and the impending free agency of Griffin, Paul and J.J. Redick does nothing but intensify the pressure.
“You can’t do anything about the past,” Paul said. “OKC, Houston, now with Portland, the injuries and stuff like that, it is what it is, it’s there. So now we just have to play now.”
Coach Doc Rivers said he does not know how those past experiences will affect his team heading back to the playoffs, the No. 4 seed with home-court advantage. In his 13-year playing career, Rivers said, he does “not remember going into a playoff series thinking about what happened last year.”
“Does that mean,” he mused, “that there is no residual? Probably not. Has to be something, but can’t tell you what it is.”
Crawford said he does not always see the past few seasons as frustrating, but realizes how slim the margin for error is in the postseason, and how easily the Clippers could have held on against the Thunder, closed out the Rockets and, without injuries, moved past the Blazers.
“There’s times I…