Photo of Doc Rivers

PLAYA VISTA – One of the major tenets for Doc Rivers’ coaching style has been his ability to “move on” from negatives, or adversity, and focus on what lies ahead.

Moving on is a consistent message. It’s a mentality that he has tried to instill in his players in each of NBA stops. He used that line of thinking to encourage Byron Mullens to keep shooting after it appeared the Clippers reserve big man was losing confidence. He says it often to Blake Griffin, who is as self-critical as any member of the team, when it appears his young star is thinking too much about a mistake.

“He doesn’t dwell on a lot of mistakes,” Griffin said of Rivers before practice Thursday. “He’ll correct you when you’re wrong, but he does it in a positive way. I think that’s important for guys. Sometimes we know when we mess up and we need that positive reinforcement.”

Rivers has the same approach to injuries. He doesn’t dwell on them. In Boston, he dealt with a 2009 knee injury to Kevin Garnett and still led the Celtics past the Bulls in a thrilling first-round series. Three years later an aging Celtics team played some of their best basketball of the season after All-Star Rajon Rondo was lost for the season with a torn ACL.


River has long been the kind of coach, and player, who tried to focus on the next play. But he said he had to learn how to fully embrace that line of thinking.

“I’ve always been a move-on guy, to a fault at times,” Rivers said. “If a guy gets injured, I’m concerned about his health always. But at that moment, I’m thinking about the team and winning. We can’t dwell on anything ever. We just can’t be that group of guys if we want to go where we want to go.”

Through more than two weeks of camp, the Clippers have dealt with a number of minor injuries as well, but Rivers has adapted.

“It sets us back,” Rivers said when asked about the injuries. “It’s just part of basketball. That stuff doesn’t ever get me twisted. If any coach expects everyone to be healthy through camp and is not prepared when you have injuries, then there are going to be problems. That’s just how the season is, too. In a perfect world we would have loved everyone to be healthy so we could get everything in. But we live in an imperfect world, so we have to make adjustments.”

Griffin, who is nursing a sore right ankle, did not play in the last two preseason games, but says he would have been active if it were the regular season.

“I worked out yesterday and got some shots up and it felt pretty good,” Griffin said. “So, I’ll go today and see how it goes.”

As for the rest of the injured core, Matt Barnes (sore left calf), J.J. Redick (left quad contusion) and Reggie Bullock (sore right knee) are all making progress. 

“I don’t think any of them are practicing today, but I think they’re all very close,” Rivers said. “They’re all running now. I think J.J. even though he said he’s ready, I think he’s the furthest away. I don’t know if any of them will play this weekend, but hopefully next week our whole team’s on the floor.”