After a deflating Game 4 loss to the Golden State Warriors Sunday afternoon, the Los Angeles Clippers have decided to step back and take some much needed time off.
According to the Orange County Register's Dan Woike, the Clippers will not hold practice following Sunday's 118-97 drubbing, an understandable move given the turmoil that's engulfed Doc Rivers' club over the last 48 hours.
#Clippers will not practice Monday.— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) April 27, 2014
And while the Clippers have plenty of adjustments to make concerning on-court tactics, Rivers admitted to reporters after the game that his team is entering uncertain and murky waters from a mental standpoint.
"We’re going home now," Rivers said, according to ESPN.com's J.A. Adande. "Usually that would mean we're going to our safe haven. And I don’t even know if that’s true."
That soundbite from Rivers tells us all we need to know about the emotional uncertainty that's enveloped the Clippers at such a crucial stage in their title chase.
As Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes writes, Sterling's alleged comments may ultimately prove to be the breaking point for a team that once appeared to be a staunch contender to emerge from a wild and crazy Western Conference:
Winning a playoff series is hard. Winning against a very good, motivated opponent is harder. Winning in these circumstances—when the players' hearts and heads are justifiably conflicted—might prove impossible.
If true, the timing of Sterling's insensitive and deplorable ramblings couldn't have come at a worse time. Following two straight wins over the Warriors, L.A.'s confidence was peaking entering a crucial Game 4.
Now? The Clippers find themselves reeling after allowing Mark Jackson's club to walk all over them to the tune of 55.4 percent shooting from the field, 46.9 percent shooting from three and 33 points (on 10-of-20 shooting, 7-of-14 from three) from Stephen Curry, who appeared to regain his lethal form in the win.
Who Wins Game 5?
As crazy as it may have seemed just three days ago, the Warriors and Clippers have switched places. Los Angeles now finds itself the underdog entering uncharted territory with questions abounding and answers few and far between.