It looks like the 2019-20 Los Angeles Clippers are not going to be the best team Doc Rivers has coached.
Despite the fact that the NBA season has yet to even begin, the 57-year-old head coach has already made up his mind — this current version of the Clippers is not the best team he’s ever coached. That distinction belongs to none other than the 2007-08 Boston Celtics — the lone team he’s ever won a title with as head coach.
Rivers stated the following, via Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.
“I think so, and it’s because of the mental toughness of that group,” said Rivers on why he thinks the 2008 Cs would beat the current Clippers. “That was a very skilled, very deep team, and the depth made them so special.
“When you think of the Celtics, you think of ‘The Big Three’ [Paul Pierce, Garnett, and Allen], but that doesn’t include [Rajon] Rondo or Perk [Kendrick Perkins], who were both phenomenal players, or Eddie House, Tony Allen, James Posey, PJ Brown, Big Baby [Glen Davis], and Leon Powe. That was a deep basketball team. Teams aren’t as deep now.
There’s no doubt that the 2008 Celtics were something special. They had the NBA’s first modern superteam with the trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. These are three future Hall-of-Famers who were the best players of their generation.
But a lot of people forget that they weren’t even favored in the 2008 Finals — the Los Angeles Lakers were. Despite being underdogs against the reigning MVP Kobe Bryant and All-Star Pau Gasol by his side, the Celtics were able to overcome a 24-point deficit in Game 4 to defeat the Lakers. They also beat down the Lakers, 131-92, in the series-clinching Game 6 — the largest margin of victory in a series-clinching championship game in NBA Finals history.
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With that said, it’s kind of unfair to dismiss this current version of the Clippers, considering they haven’t even had a practice together. This 2019-20 squad obviously needs to prove themselves, but on paper, they look like the best team in the NBA.
The Clippers have the best trio of wing defenders in Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley. Imagine in a playoff series against the Golden State Warriors where the Clippers will have the luxury of rotating all three defenders against the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson?
The same will remain true against the Lakers when they can put George or Leonard on both LeBron James and Anthony Davis — not to mention, they’ll be able to put Beverley on James during spurts.
I didn’t even mention that they have the best Sixth Man in the league in Lou Williams. Williams won his third Sixth Man of the Year award in 2019 — an NBA record.
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Rivers did mention during his interview with Washburn that the Clippers have to grow and play together in order to win — something that the 2008 Celtics excelled at.
“When you have a title team, you still have that mind-set you’re trying to win every night, but there’s a bigger purpose that you know what’s out there but you have to put in the work and the time, the commitment, you have to get them to grow together, to play together. You have to have cooperation. Teams that don’t want to do that don’t win, that’s a fact.”
Rivers will always have a special place for the 2008 Celtics in his heart — that much is obvious from his interview.
But give it some time and allow this 2019-20 Clippers team to take the court before you come to the conclusion that one of your previous teams is better.
This Clippers squad just may end up becoming one of the best NBA teams of all time.
Follow D.J. Siddiqi on Twitter @DJSiddiqi