Clippers Finally Get To Practice, With Focus On Defensive Slippage

INDIANAPOLIS – Two days ago, with some slippage evident but the Clippers still rolling into Detroit on a four-game winning streak, head coach Doc Rivers saw the off day between Friday’s matchup in Detroit and Sunday’s matchup in Indianapolis.

The Clippers used that time Saturday afternoon to practice for the second time this year, with a taxing schedule not affording them more than a day off between games since October.

It was a decision Rivers said he made before Friday’s loss to the Pistons, using the gym at Marian University in Indianapolis to work on defense in more of a glorified walkthrough than an all-out practice, focusing on reviewing and watching film.

“We’re not going to do much, but you can’t decide after games,” Rivers said. “That’s just the worst time, because that’s more of an emotional practice and you get nothing out of that.

“We’ve just got to review. Our slippage is off the charts – defensively more than offensively.”

Rivers said the Clippers have been getting away with that for the most part. Their 14-3 record doesn’t depict many troubles, but from their pick-and-roll defense, to their transition defense, to weak-side help – which Rivers thought initially was the Clippers’ biggest step forward in propelling them to the league’s top defense to start the season – he’s seen some regression that needs to be fixed.

“It’s all fixable, nothing hard,” Rivers said. “I think when you play so many games, you don’t see it. So, I think this will be good for us.”

Chris Paul also added that he thinks any issues can be corrected, and he thinks the Clippers have done a good job of managing rest as well as they can.

He expects the Clippers to use the practice to work on sets, particularly for late in games, and then for general clean-up. Paul said he’s liked the Clippers’ spirit entering every game, but noted the defense hasn’t always been as good as they’d like. The Clippers recently dropped from the league’s top defense to No. 3.  

“It’s something to be said about missing the gym and missing each other, which I think is where Doc does an amazing job,” Paul said. “Sometimes, we do need a day off to come back in and miss the gym and miss the grind of it.”

Paul reiterated he doesn’t think fatigue is an issue, saying he feels as good now as he’s felt in a few years. Rivers said he thought the Clippers played tired in a loss Friday, but his team said that wasn’t an issue and no one blamed fatigue when the trip started with a blowout win in Dallas.

“Again, it was just one game, so I won’t overdo it,” Rivers said.

Much like Rivers and Paul, DeAndre Jordan didn’t want to use fatigue or a lack of practice time as an excuse.

“Even if we don’t practice, we still should know how to play,” Jordan said. “I feel like we know we can score a lot of points, but if one night it’s not falling, we’ve still got to come out and be able to stop you. We can’t give up 30-plus points to anybody in any quarter.”

That’s what happened in the first quarter against Detroit, allowing 35 points and playing from behind until the early minutes of the fourth quarter. While the Clippers have never gone on a losing streak this year, Jordan said it shouldn’t take a loss to come out with the right mindset the next time around.

And in his mind, it starts with cleaning up the defense.

“Winning 14 out of 17 is pretty good, but we know the games we lost we weren’t the instigator defensively and physically,” Jordan said. “There’s definitely been some slippage from us. I put a lot of that on myself. I’ve got to come out with the mindset and the intensity to set the tone for the entire team.”