A few years back, I was in Europe for a series of meetings. The last meeting, about a week into the trip, was in London. I had an afternoon flight the next day, and as I settled into my hotel room bed that night, I decided I'd let myself sleep the next morning. I'd been in meetings all week, been waking up to the sound of alarms, and I thought it would be good to just sleep and wake naturally. I was more than a little disoriented when I awoke at 5 PM the next day and had to re-schedule my long-gone flight.
The point is, sometimes you need a wake-up call and you don't get one. That should not be the Clippers problem. Losing to Atlanta by 12 on Saturday is a piercingly loud alarm bell. Of course, losing at home to Toronto without Chris Bosh, losing in embarrassing fashion to San Antonio... and Dallas... and Utah... these were all wake up calls as well. Unfortunately, it seems as if the Clippers have found the snooze button.
Amazingly, the playoffs remain as much within reach as ever. The last two Western Conference spots are currently held by teams no more than 2 games over .500 (though of course Denver's problems are obvious, and they will do much better when Carmelo returns in 6 games). The Clippers have been in more or less the same spot (2 or 3 games out of the last spot) for a few weeks now, so it won't take much of a run to jump into the playoff picture. Minnesota was 10-13 on Jan. 22, but are now the 7th seed after winning 7 of 9.
Of the Clippers next 9 games, 2 of them are against those same T-Wolves, and 2 are against the Warriors, currently at .500 and in 9th place in the West. In other words, they have their opportunity to beat teams that they MUST beat to reach the playoffs. The only other road game in that stretch is tonight's contest against the Hornets, and certainly the Clippers have shown that they are capable of winning on the road when the opponent is missing between 2 and 3 starters (Memphis, Houston, Miami) which describes the Hornets. I'm not really counting on a 9 game winning streak, but with mostly mediocre teams at home, and key games against the Wolves and Warriors that they really need to win, it wouldn't make me mad.
Did the Clippers answer the phone when it rang? Did they respond to the alarm? Did they jump out of bed to get a fresh start on the day? Or did they hang up, hit the snooze button, roll over and go back to sleep?