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Clippers motivated by skeptics

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Before the playoffs began, each player on the Los Angeles Clippers was handed a sheet of paper that he kept and looked at throughout the team's epic seven-game series with the San Antonio Spurs, which culminated with the Clippers beating the Spurs 111-109 in Game 7 on Saturday.

While Doc Rivers said he wouldn't use many motivational tactics before the series, the collection of cut-and-pasted media predictions for the Clippers-Spurs series served as all the motivation his players needed.

“We’re probably one of the most hated teams in the league, but that drives us,” Matt Barnes told ESPN.com. “It fuels us to know that 46 out of 47 people picked us to lose. That’s the kind of fire we need to just reassure us that that there’s no time to be comfortable. This team has got what it takes to win a championship, and we just have to go prove it now.”

After the Clippers defeated the Spurs to advance to the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets, Austin Rivers smiled when he was asked about the paper he kept throughout the series and said he would always keep after winning his first playoff series.

"I still got it; I have it right here,” Rivers told ESPN.com. “I know all the names on there. I've seen them walk around the locker and hallway and try to smile at me, and I don’t smile back. Every single guy looked at that and said, 'OK.' After the series my dad said, ‘You know what? When you all play Houston, they’re still not going to pick you. And if you beat them, when you play the Warriors, they’re still not going to pick you. And if you beat them and make it to the Finals and play the Cavs, they’re still not going to pick you.'"

“People are not going to pick us. For whatever reason, people don’t like us. That’s fine. It just keeps motivating us," Rivers added.

"But damn right I have that paper.”