Los Angeles Clippers: It’s Time To Panic

The Los Angeles Clippers appear to be falling apart down the stretch run. It’s officially time to start panicking about their chances in the postseason and how it be the end of the Clippers as they’re currently constructed.

With less than a month until the beginning of the playoffs, something with the Los Angeles Clippers just isn’t right.

Just ask the players.

“I just think our spirit isn’t great right now. We’ve just got to be more together and fight more. You can talk about X’s and O’s all you want but as a player, you can feel it when your spirit isn’t right,” J.J. Redick told the media after the Clippers’ embarrassing 109-105 loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The Pelicans were without All-Star Anthony Davis, as well as Ryan Anderson, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon. The hobbled Pelicans instead started guys like Dante Cunningham, Luke Babbitt and Toney Douglas, three players who even most knowledgeable NBA fans would have trouble telling you who they play for.

“We’ve got to stop playing with these teams that we should beat,” said Austin Rivers in his postgame interview before adding, “we’re not in a position to judge anybody.”

DeAndre Jordan kept it short when asked about the state of the Clippers.

The Clippers are only 8-8 since the All-Star break and have run out of the magic that they seemed to have pre-All-Star break without Blake Griffin.

The Clippers have struggled all season against the elite teams of the NBA, a troubling sign for their playoff expectations. The Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors are the five teams in the NBA with a better record than the Clippers. The Clippers are a combined 2-11 in their meetings with those teams this season.

The most recent win against those teams was a 105-86 victory against the Spurs on Feb. 18, who were playing without Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili.

Just as troubling for the Clippers are their recent string of losses to the Pelicans and Grizzlies, probably the two most injury-plagued teams in the NBA. The players who missed these games could make up a pretty good team of their own; Marc Gasol, Davis, Evans, Gordon, Mike Conley, Anderson and Matt Barnes (suspension).

For a team with its eyes on contending, losses to beleaguered teams like these are inexcusable and incomprehensible.

With a Wednesday matchup against the Warriors looming, the Clippers seem destined to fall below .500 since the All-Star break.

The Clippers as we know them, featuring Chris Paul, Griffin and Jordan being coached by Doc Rivers, could have their days numbered.

It’s always been a long-shot for the Clippers to make it past the Warriors and Spurs in the playoffs and the Clippers recent play makes that possibility laughable. If their apparent destiny of falling short of the Western Conference Finals yet again becomes a reality, this current era of Los Angeles Clippers basketball may be entering its final days.

Paul arrived in Los Angeles prior to the 2011-12 season, marking the beginning of the best era of basketball in Clippers franchise history. If the Clippers fall short of the Western Conference Finals, it will be the fifth straight year of making the playoffs but failing to make it past the second round.

Their failure to make it deep into the playoffs sparked the firing of Vinny Del Negro after the 2012-13 season, but the results haven’t changed.

What this says is that the Clippers have likely exhausted their potential with the current unit. When healthy, they’re destined to win 56 or 57 wins and lose in the playoffs to one of the true contenders.

Given the Clippers’ terrible history, this isn’t the worst thing in the world. However, a fifth straight year of the same results is a large enough sample size to show everyone that this group just doesn’t have what it takes to be champions. Things might be a little too stale in Los Angeles and due for a change.

Maybe this time of struggle is just the wake-up call that the Clippers need to realize that they must take their game up a notch if they hope to prove that they can be champions.

If this isn’t the wake-up call to get them to join together as a unit, well, that will tell us everything we need to know about whether this team deserves to be shaken up in the upcoming off-season.