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


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

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.

Mychal Thompson wants Klay to emulate James Harden in one aspect in 2018-19

Mychal Thompson wants Klay to emulate James Harden in one aspect in 2018-19

Klay Thompson is a well-rounded, versatile player. He shot 52.6 percent from 2-point range last season. He shot 44 percent from 3-point range. He made 83.7 percent of his free throws. He averaged 2.5 assists per game. He's the Warriors' best perimeter defender.

There's not a noticeable weakness to his game.

But his father Mychal spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler on Saturday to talk about what kind of differences we'll see in Klay will be during the 2018-19 season and he shared the goal he's set for his son.

"I think you'll see a hungrier player. He's going to try to get more versatile, try to get to the basket a little more, more free throws, being more efficient on offense that way. I always tell him, try to make it a goal to shoot eight (free throws) a game. Eight or 10, like James Harden does," Mychal Thompson told Ostler.

Thompson attempted a career low 1.3 free throw attempts last season. His high-water mark was 3.3 free throw attempts per game during the 2014-15 season. By comparison, Harden attempted 10.1 free throw attempts last season and has surpassed 10 attempts per game in five of the last six seasons.

Of course, the elder Thompson was asked about his son's free agency next summer. Klay told the Bay Area News Group on Saturday that he wants to remain with the Warriors for the rest of his career. His father said the same thing at the Thompson Family Foundation's charity golf tournament on Saturday.

“Oh yeah, you can mark it down. Klay’s going to retire in the Warriors’ uniform. He’s going to play at Chase Center (the Warriors’ new arena, opening in 2019), and he’s not going to be at Chase Center as a visiting player, he’s going to be a Warrior for the next seven or eight years," Mychal said according to The Chronicle.

Klay Thompson addresses impending free agency: 'Number one on my list...'

Klay Thompson addresses impending free agency: 'Number one on my list...'

Editor's Note: The above video is from June 6, 2018, after the Warriors beat the Cavs in Game 3 in the NBA Finals.

With the 2018 offseason wrapping up, the talk surrounding the Warriors will shift to next summer's free agency of All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson.

Thompson and his father Mychal have said several times during the last few months (see above video) that their intention is stay with the Warriors long-term. But that's not stopping speculation that the seven-year veteran may bolt the Warriors following his eighth season.

On Saturday night, Thompson reiterated his desire to remain with the Warriors in an interview with the Bay Area News Group.

“I’ve said it many times before: I would like to be a Warrior for life. Contract negotiations are way down the line. But I think we all have the same interest. I would love to be here for the rest of my career,” Thompson told Mark Medina.

Pressed on the possibility of signing an extension with the Warriors before he hits the open market, Thompson left the door slightly ajar by offering this:

“It’s tough to say. I’d definitely be interested. But at the end of the day, I’m going to be a free agent in 2019. Number one on my list would obviously be to stay with the Warriors,” Thompson told Medina.

Thompson is entering the final season of a four-year, $68.97 million contract. He will make $18,988 million for the 2018-19 season.