The Clippers lost to the Mavericks 135-133 in overtime on Sunday, prompting Rivers to question his team’s emotional fortitude.
“Honestly, I thought we were very emotionally weak tonight,” Rivers said.
Despite missing the services of talented big man Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks managed to stay focused and steal the game from the Clippers.
“And you can see the difference in spirit,” Rivers added. “Like, they make a run, and everybody’s excited. You know, they make a run on us, and we cave in. So that’s on all of us. Me, too. I’ve got to get our guys right.”
A buzzer-beating 3-pointer in overtime from Mavs superstar Luka Doncic capped Dallas’ furious run to overcome a 21-point deficit in the second quarter. Doncic, a first-time All-Star this season, finished with a rare 40-point triple-double with 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists.
“Bottom line is the last play didn’t lose the game for us,” Rivers said. “It was our entire play from the second quarter on.”
Adding to the Clippers’ woes has been the untimely shooting slump that six-time All-Star Paul George has been in the last three games.
He chipped in only nine points in Game 4, his lowest output of the series so far.
The seventh-seeded Mavs can take a 3-2 lead over the second-seeded Clippers in the series with a win on Tuesday. To keep that from happening, the Clippers have to do a better job defensively.
Giving up 135 points to the Mavericks again is the last thing that Rivers would want to see in Game 5.