Last summer in the bubble, the Los Angeles Clippers suffered one of the most embarrassing collapses in playoff history. Not only did they blow a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in their second-round series, but they gave up double-digit leads in each of the final three games.
In the offseason, they responded by parting ways with Doc Rivers and hiring Ty Lue as their new coach, and adding Serge Ibaka, Luke Kennard and Nic Batum. Those changes haven't fixed the root of the Clippers' problems, however. At least not yet. On Friday night, they fell apart in the second half against the Golden State Warriors, surrendering a 22-point advantage before ultimately losing by 10.
After the game, Kawhi Leonard told reporters that the Clippers, "have to change." He declined to go into specifics, and would not say what sort of internal discussions they had. "I'm not about to tell you what we're doing in the locker room," Leonard said. "It's locker room talk."
Paul George echoed his teammate "We got to be better," George said. All of us included. This was a team loss, more than anything. We just got to get better. We'll work on it... We just gotta dig deep. That's what it comes down to: We just gotta dig deep as a group and just rely on our team defense to help each other."
Since the beginning of last season, the Clippers have now blown eight leads of at least 15 points, which is the most in the league in that time span.
The talent in L.A. is not in question. Leonard and George are both All-NBA caliber players and they have a strong supporting cast led by Ibaka, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams. As a result, they're going to be a really good team, and even after the loss to the Warriors, they sit at 6-4, just one game back of first place in the Western Conference.
But winning titles isn't just about talent, as the Clippers found out all too well last season. There's a certain combination of toughness and togetherness that's required, and a willingness to respond to and overcome adversity. A team's chemistry, if you will. And so far, the Clippers haven't quite found the right mix.