DAY 1: RIVERS ‘SETS TONE’ IN MORNING PRACTICE
LA JOLLA, Calif. – The first day of training camp is often hyper-kinetic, a summer of pickup games, workouts and vacations jettisoned for the onset of another grind.
For the Clippers, who opened camp Tuesday morning on the campus of the University of California San Diego, it is all about maintaining a certain pace.
“Right now, I think some of the guys were surprised by the pace that we went,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “We didn’t take a lot of breaks. We just went from one [thing] to the next to the next.
“I think all of our guys have to get used to that pace.”
Forward Blake Griffin, who is coming off his third consecutive All-Star appearance in 2012-13, said, “All the first practices of a training camp are always everybody going 90 miles an hour trying to make up for their mistakes and at the same time not mess up. Some of those practices are a little bit sloppy in that sense, but I think we did a good job.”
The nearly three-hour practice had a certain sense of urgency. The team spent more than half of the time going over defensive tactics, something Rivers suggested is necessary to “set the tone.”
“We have to be a great executing team by the end of all this,” Rivers said. “So, the closer guys are and the more they trust each other the better they can execute.”
And while refining a defense that already ranked fourth in opponent points per game (94.6) and tied for ninth in opponent field goal percentage (.443) is Rivers’ on-court priority, quickly building chemistry is likely even more of an emphasis.
“The expectation for the training camp is to come out of this as a team, instead of just a group of guys,” Rivers said. “Right now, we’re just a group of guys. Some know each other, some don’t.”
Out of the 18 players on the team’s camp roster, 11 are new. The disparity is aided somewhat by certain players’ familiarity with one another, such as Chris Paul’s season in New Orleans with Darren Collison or Jared Dudley’s time in Phoenix with Lou Amundson and Matt Barnes.
However, the group dynamic remains instrumental. It’s why they’re in San Diego.
“It gives us a chance to be together in one place as a team and not really have any outside distractions,” Griffin said. “When you’re stuck together like that you’re forced to hash things out, when guys spend a lot of time with each other. We had the same experience last year when we went to China.”
BULLOCK SITS OUT
First-round pick Reggie Bullock sat out of the morning practice with a sore knee. Rivers said the rookie guard did not participate in any portion of the workout, but he does not anticipate it to be anything to be concerned about.