Can Clippers Recover From Key Injuries?
Griffin, Paul and Redic Are Out; Team Has Lost Three Straight
December 29, 2016
By Mitch Chortkoff
First it was Blake Griffin with knee surgery. Then it was Chris Paul with a hamstring injury. Then J.J. Redic, also with a hamstring problem.
“Something good is going to come out of this,” said Coach Doc Rivers. “Maybe a lineup I didn’t expect to click.”
So far the Clippers have lost to Dallas the night after a healthier Clipper team beat San Antonio. Then the Clippers lost to the Lakers and Denver.
This is serious because the Clippers are heading out of elite playoff status. If you’re in the top four you get home court advantage in the first round. If you’re not in the top four you’re the road team in the first round and most likely the second.
The Clippers have never reached the Western Conference Finals but figured they might after winning 12 of their first 14 games this season.
The loss to the Lakers on Sunday night followed 12 straight Clipper wins in the series in the last four years.
Rivers says he’s not sure when Paul and Redic will return but he says hamstring injuries require more patience than other injuries.
As for Griffin, he was playing well but the Clippers figure it was better to take care of his knee problem now than wait until later when he might be unable to be at his best for the playoffs.
Although Rivers does well in juggling his personnel it wasn’t enough to win any of the last three games.
The Lakers hsd gone 1-6 on a trip but recovered to hold off a Clippers rally in Sunday’s game.
The Nuggets ran up a 17-point halftime lead over the Clippers Monday and held off a second half rally.
“I saw fatigue in our players,” said Rivers.
The Clippers had beaten the Nuggets six days ago at Staples Center. Since that game the Nuggets had played only once and the Clippers had played four times.
That uneven scheduling is expected to stop next season because in a new labor agreement just reached between the owners and players a week ago an additional week has been added to the regular season schedule.
In place of Paul and Redic the coach started Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers against Denver and both played well.
But there’s only so much a coach can do when major changes are required. At their best the Clippers are good. With three top scoters absent they’re mediocre.