the Clippers needed to get a victory over a West playoff team, something they haven't done since before the All-Star break. In fact, the Clippers are 0-6 against teams seeded sixth or higher in the West since Jan. 14. In other words, they're 0-6 over the last two months against teams they could face in the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Clippers have lost three of their last five and are 6-4 since the All-Star break, with all four losses coming to Western Conference playoffs teams.
"I expect a lot from this team, but we're not playing at a high enough level against the top teams right now for long enough stretches to have success," Del Negro said. "No question it's a concern."
Clippers players and coaches used to bring up the fact they had defeated the Heat, Spurs and Thunder in the past but with the Clippers now 0-5 against those teams since Nov. 20, there's no point in sugarcoating the reality that most of the Clippers' big wins came before the holidays and mean very little now.
The Clippers are now the No. 4 seed and just one game ahead of surging Denver. A first-round matchup with the Nuggets would be bad enough, but if the Nuggets, who are 29-3 at home this season, have home court, the Clippers could be looking at a first-round exit.