Warriors

Doc Rivers: Warriors lucky they didn't face Clippers or Spurs

Warriors

In case you forgot, the Warriors won the 2015 NBA title.

In the process, they became just the 10th team to win 67 regular season games.

They won those 67 contests by an average of 10.1 points -- the eighth team in league history to finish with a win-differential of +10 or better.

According to Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, the Warriors needed some help from the Basketball Gods to capture the championship.

“You need luck in the West,” Rivers recently told Zach Lowe of Grantland.com. “Look at Golden State. They didn’t have to play us or the Spurs. But that’s also a lesson for us: When you have a chance to close, you have to do it.”

Rivers is correct. The Warriors didn't have to play the Spurs or Clippers en route to hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

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Los Angeles knocked off San Antonio in an epic seven-game series, that would not have been a first-round matchup in the 2016 playoffs.

The third-seeded Clippers (56-26) squared off against the sixth-seeded Spurs (55-27) because the Blazers (51-31, sixth best record in the West) were awarded the four-seed by virtue of winning their division.

Last month, the NBA announced that a division-winner will no longer automatically get a Top 4 seed.

If that rule was in place last season, the Clippers would have faced Portland in the first round, with Memphis (four seed) squaring off against San Antonio (5 seed).

 

Would the Spurs have beaten Memphis and faced the Warriors in the second round? Possibly. Could the Spurs have beaten the Warriors? Possibly. 

Rivers' Clippers could have had a shot against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals had their season not come to end with a Game 7 loss to the Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Los Angeles had a 3-1 series lead, and beat Houston 124-99 in Game 3 and 128-95 in Game 4.

After dropping Game 5 in Houston 124-103, the Clippers returned home for Game 6, and looked like they would cruise past the Rockets.

Los Angeles led 87-68 with less than three minutes remaining, yet lost the game 119-107.

The collapse became official with a 113-100 loss back in Houston.

“The more I tried to process it, the angrier I got,” J.J. Redick told Lowe. “I’m not saying we definitely would have beaten Golden State, but if you make the conference finals, you have a chance. I’ve given up trying to explain what happened.

“The championship window in the West is so narrow. Ours might only be open another couple of years. But you need some breaks. Golden State was the best team in the league, but they also had everything go right for them. They didn’t have one bad break. I don’t have any doubt about the DNA of our team.”

During the regular season, the Warriors took three of four from their Pacific Division rivals.

2015-16 meetings: Nov. 4 and March 23 at Oracle Arena, and Nov. 19 and Feb. 20 at Staples Center.