L.A. Clippers' Dream Season on Verge of Playoff Collapse

Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterApril 6, 2013

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  DeAndre Jordan #6, Chris Paul #3, Chauncey Billups #1, Blake Griffin #32 and Caron Butler #5 of the Los Angeles Clippers talk during a break in the action against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on March 7, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Clippers 107-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers are losing their flare at the worst possible time.

The team has lost four of its last six, slipping to No. 4 in the West and only one game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies.

And now, word on the streets is that the chemistry is starting to become an issue.

T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times wrote a column this week that suggested the Clippers' core isn't as tight as you'd think.

The other night in Sacramento, Griffin and Jordan exchanged words on the bench. Griffin told Jordan he best never again stare him down as he did when Griffin failed to give Jordan a good pass for a dunk.

Everyone else was left to sit there while waiting for the kids to stop bickering.

The pair have also grown tired of Chris Paul's voice, which is understandable at times.

Simers also mentioned that "Jordan wants nothing to do with Coach Vinny Del Negro because he blames Del Negro for burying him on the bench," and that Griffin "reacts like a kid when done wrong, looking for the opportunity to get even while giving no regard to how that might affect his team's performance."

One of the reasons I felt the Clippers were having so much success early on was actually because of the chemistry the key players seemed to share. No team looked like they were having a better time than them.

Whether or not these personality and relationship flaws are being blown out of proportion, the team's performance is suffering with the playoffs around the corner.

This is a team that thrives off of rhythm and adrenaline, and right now, there's none of it to play off.

Maybe we let the Clippers' hot start cloud our judgment with regard to their capabilities. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are both 24 years old. Jamal Crawford is the same dude he's been throughout his 14-year career.

Was it responsible of us to think that this is the crew who was going to help Chris Paul challenge the top teams in the West?

Griffin and Jordan still have a lot of growing up to do. But maturity isn't a choice, it's a process. Right now, the process is far from complete.

As it stands, the Clippers will face the Grizzlies in the first round, one of the most disciplined teams in the NBA. And if they're able to get by Memphis, they'll match up with either the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 2.

And if you've been watching the Clippers over the past few weeks, you wouldn't think this was a team ready to realistically challenge either one.

This is unfamiliar territory for L.A. For the first time ever, they actually have high expectations. And now they have to find a way to battle adversity while trying to live up to them.

I've always believed that basketball was a game of runs, and the Clippers appear to be heading into the playoffs without one to ride. I'm not sure even the most powerful wave could end up taking them to the finals, at least not this year.

But if they don't get it together, both mentally and fundamentally, this year's dream season might end before they ever wake up.