The Clippers are like a high school superstar who coasts by on talent alone. They've breezed through the regular season and amassed a 16-8 record against current Western Conference playoff-bound opponents.
Their collective superior athleticism and skill has given them plenty of regular-season success—that which is nearly unparalleled in franchise history—but has yet to yield rewards in the postseason.
Like the prep standout finding himself among sound competition for the first time, Los Angeles faces the conundrum of matching up against powerful teams at every juncture in the playoffs.
That’s where Rivers and Chris Paul come in.
The Clips’ floor general has demonstrated the unique ability to both accept and implement coaching despite being an All-NBA player. Rivers recognized this fact and pointed out as much when speaking with Paul Flannery of SB Nation in April:
He just gets it. I think it's his IQ. He watches all these games. He watches the way we played and instead of coming back saying let's go back to the way we played he figured out, ‘Well (expletive), this is good for me.' We're playing at this pace and that's hard for the point guard to play at this pace. What Chris is doing now is, he gets it and throws it to Blake. Instead of grabbing it and thinking ego, he's thinking team.
Being a team guy is in Paul’s nature, but Rivers pointed out an important fact. CP3's vision to recognize the Clippers are better with budding superstar Blake Griffin as a featured component of the offense is huge.
Like Rivers points out, that takes basketball smarts and humility.
Like Paul, the rest of the Clippers would do well to embrace their individual roles for the greater good. The ability to do that comes from coaching and execution on the floor.