The LA Clippers entered the first day of training camp motivated and “pissed off” on Sunday, according to point guard Patrick Beverley.
Beverley said the sting of the Clippers’ 3-1 second-round collapse to the Denver Nuggets still resonates with him and motivates his teammates to regain their fight and hit back this season.
“The attitude around here is guys are pissed off,” Beverley said Sunday morning before the team’s first camp practice. “Which is good. We should be pissed off after our exit last year in the playoffs. I think that within itself is extra motivation there, come in training camp with a team put together [that] looks good on paper [last season] … and when you come up short, you get kind of pissed off.
“That gives you a little wood to kind of burn inside for the fire. So everybody is kind of pissed off, so it is a little quieter workplace and guys are more locked in, more focused, and that is the way it should be.”
Beverley said the Clippers, who were favorites to win the title last season before falling short of expectations in shocking fashion, took a hit from the Nuggets and want to fight back.
“The feel is that we want to get our lick back,” Beverley said. “When I say lick back, I mean somebody hits you when you are growing up, your mom tells you to hit them back, that’s getting your lick back.
“We got hit by the Nuggets, and we want to get our lick back and that is our focus.”
Beverley echoed what new coach Ty Lue, Marcus Morris Sr. and Paul George said as far as the team entering this season highly motivated from last postseason’s meltdown.
Lue, who replaced Doc Rivers as coach after being the top assistant last season, said the Clippers will have a “whole new program” — a new system, new coaching staff and some new players.
George said in an appearance on the “All The Smoke” podcast that the Clippers failed to make any adjustments as they were losing three straight games to the Nuggets. Rivers, now the 76ers coach, responded in Philadelphia on Sunday.
“I enjoyed coaching him,” Rivers said of George before chuckling later about adjustments with Lue sitting next to him. “So not a lot to say there. Ty Lue was sitting right next to me, so he better hope it’s not adjustments, because it ain’t going to be much different.
“Look, we lost a game, and I think everybody needs to take ownership. I obviously, we can do better, players can play better, so as far as I’m concerned, I will leave it there.”
The Clippers believe going through last season’s struggles could make them stronger. New Clippers forward Nic Batum said he can see this season being a revenge season for Kawhi Leonard.
“I think what happened last year is this team will have learned a lot and we have a guy who proved it in the past,” Batum said. “That’s why people told me that about Kawhi. What happened with the Spurs in 2013 [losing in the Finals], he came back the next year and won the MVP of the Finals and the ring. And what happened to him in 2018 with the injuries and stuff like that in San Antonio, and he came back the next year in Toronto and won the ring as well. Proved it twice, so maybe again this year.”
Asked how long the 3-1 meltdown stuck with him this offseason, Beverley paused to think about it before answering.
“I don’t think it went away,” Beverley said.
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