The LA Clippers could disrupt playoffs in a familiar fashion

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 8: Patrick Beverley
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 8: Patrick Beverley /

The new-look LA Clippers have a certain look and feel to them – one that brings back memories of one of the biggest postseason upsets in NBA history.

“We Believe” was an especially popular phrase towards the end of the 2006-2007 NBA season. It inspires optimism and a drive to ultimately persist. It also speaks to the underdogs, the underachievers, and those with a relentless will to win.

“We Believe” was also the montra adopted by the Golden State Warriors for the 2007 NBA Playoffs.

They had finished the season at 42-40, two games better than the Los Angeles Clippers. It was just enough to qualify for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. Their first opponent was the Dallas Mavericks, a team that had won 67 games – 14 more than the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Detroit Pistons had won.

Golden State’s roster was nothing to write home about – they were headlined by oft-injured Baron Davis, an aging Al Harrington, Monta Ellis, and post-malice Stephen Jackson. Yet somehow, they took the opening round vs the Mavericks in 6 games.

You see, confidence is a powerful thing. As are support, energy, and passion. The Warriors’ fan base believed so much that it became contagious. Soon, the team went from afterthought to favorite. Their playoff run ended quickly, as they lost to the Utah Jazz in the second round, but the damage had already been done. Running purely off a love for the game and the drive to win, they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in NBA postseason history.

The reason all of this matters is because that’s the kind of team that the Clippers will field this year. That’s the kind of potential they’ve got. Surely LA won’t win a title this year, but that shouldn’t be their goal. Instead, it should be to cause as much damage as possible.

Nearly every player on the Clippers’ 2017-2018 roster has some sort of chip on their shoulder. Patrick Beverley has always had one, that’s just who he is. Austin Rivers wants to prove that he belongs. You can bet that Blake Griffin has some demons to get rid of, and the same goes for DeAndre Jordan. Because when it comes down to it, the departure of Chris Paul created a lot more drama than was initially speculated. Every returning Clipper, especially Griffin and Jordan, are going to have to show that they can be All-Stars without him. And they can be.

HONOLULU, HI – OCTOBER 4: Blake Griffin
HONOLULU, HI – OCTOBER 4: Blake Griffin /

Let’s look at it this way. Say the Clippers get the 6th seed in the playoffs, and their first-round opponent is the Houston Rockets. No one, absolutely no one, is going to pick the Clippers to win that series. They’ll say that the tandem of Paul and James Harden will be too much to overcome, and that the Clippers simply won’t be able to keep up with them. But in a lot of ways, it could be a golden opportunity for the them.

The Rockets lack a lot of depth, and will almost certainly struggle on the defensive side of the ball. That could spell trouble for them against a Clippers team that keeps on coming.

A lot of that Warriors-Mavericks series came down to the play of Baron Davis. He was the team’s leader in scoring and assists and, like plenty of other Warriors that year, had a chip on his shoulder. He was an offensive superstar who knew how to play the game, and could handle the spotlight.

Now imagine, just for a second, that Baron Davis is Blake Griffin. A dark-horse MVP candidate that’s been all-but-counted-out because of his health scares. Imagine Monta Ellis is Austin Rivers. Ellis went on to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award that season, something that is well-within Rivers’s reach. Ellis was often overlooked since he was a second-round pick, and Austin is always criticized and being told he shouldn’t be in the NBA at all. Picture Al Harrington as DJ, the Clippers’ longest-tenured player and vocal leader. All of the pieces are there.

It’s time to start believing, Clipper Nation. Don’t write this team off too early. Instead, keep your hopes up – we could have a really special team on our hands.