HOUSTON—They came in with a bang and went out with a louder one.
If by some chance you haven’t heard, the Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated from postseason contention by the Houston Rockets on Sunday, completing the final act of one NBA history’s most dramatic collapses.
As the dust settles, some are saying Los Angeles played-out a familiar script, flashing, mesmerizing, sporadic greatness only to crumble when it mattered most.
Such critics are pointing fingers at the likes of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, consistent stars who couldn’t quite eclipse the shortcomings of their supporting cast as names such as Jordan, Bryant, and James have before them.
Some have even gone as far as to complain about the legendary Clipper Curse, telling anyone who will listen that the 2015 postseason was the re-beginning of the end for Los Angeles’ eternal baby brother of hooping.
After observing the burning passion of a certain diminutive point guard (see: Chris Paul) and the coming-of-age of a power forward (see: Blake Griffin) who has become far more than the game’s most explosive big man, it is hard to not look at the future of this team and know that for seasons to come, they will at the very least be knocking on that championship door.
So what needs to happen in order for them to get there?
For the entirety of the season, pundits blasted the team’s depth, arguing that beyond the three-headed monster of Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, the team lacked a fourth difference maker, the likes of which most championship teams posses.
After the litmus test of a 14-game playoff run, what will truly push this Clipper team over the top is keeping calm.
They must maintain and develop the talented nucleus they currently have, making small, under the radar moves that subtly add to their already potent attack.
In this way, they won’t drastically alter the formula that saw them overcome the defending champion Spurs in round one.
The splash move is what the fans will demand, but as history has shown, the headline-grabbing acquisition doesn’t always work out so well in the city of Angels.
If the Clippers need an example of what not to do, they need look no further than big brother, a once proud Lakers franchise that for the past two seasons has toiled in mediocrity in the wake of high-profile off-seasons.