Clippers Welcome Two Days Off For First Time Since October
LOS ANGELES – Exhale.
The Clippers waited more than a month for this week, finally getting a chance to catch their breath with two days off between games for the first time since their Oct. 30 home opener.
“We’ve been talking about this for three weeks now,” said Blake Griffin. “It’s like that vacation you’ve got planned, and it seems like it’s never going to get there, and now it’s finally here.”
Griffin said the break is “much needed” after the Clippers played 21 games in their last 36 days. He plans on using Monday for treatment and rest before the team gathers for practice Tuesday.
“A real practice, we’ve practiced once since the season started,” Griffin said. “So, we do need to get some work done…I don’t know how much we’ll actually go live, but it’ll be nice to be able to work on some things, get that rhythm back in practice.”
There wasn’t time for that in November, when the Clippers played games every day or every other day throughout the month.
This week is the light at the end of the tunnel, with the Clippers not only getting Monday and Tuesday off before playing the Warriors on Wednesday, but also Thursday and Friday off before their following game Saturday against the Pelicans.
“Six weeks are up,” said Chris Paul.
He knew exactly how long it’d been, trying to gather energy night after night. For Paul, games began to blend together.
Not that the break is finally here, Paul just wishes the Clippers’ record was better, despite sitting at 16-6 with three wins more than they had this time last year. The Clippers jumped out to a 14-2 record, dismantling teams despite the cramped schedule, but lost four of their last six games.
“I think that’s the toughest part,” Paul said. “But, we knew we were going into six weeks without having two days between games. Glad that we got through it, but a little disappointed.”
The last two of those four losses were particularly tough to swallow, with the Clippers jumping out to double-digit leads in both, including Sunday against the Pacers, before ultimately falling. Griffin said after their latest loss to the Pacers, the Clippers didn’t want to make any excuses.
But the schedule’s tough to ignore.
Entering their matchup against Indiana, the Clippers already played three times that week; the Pacers, meanwhile, had played once.
“They looked really well-rested,” Griffin said. “This is their second game since we played them in Indiana. I think rest does a lot for a team. They might be a little rusty to start the game, but being fresh, not playing for four days, playing two games in seven days and we’re playing what…our fourth?
“I think that has something to do with it, but we’ve got to be better. We can’t just blame losses on that. We’ve got to be able to find energy when we need it within ourselves.”
They were able to do that in Cleveland and New Orleans, blowing out the defending champions and running away from the Pelicans on a back-to-back to end a six-game road trip, before returning home and getting a day off to prepare for Sunday’s game.
Despite the loss to the Pacers, head coach Doc Rivers said he doesn’t feel like the Clippers are in any sort of funk or that there’s any underlying theme to the recent losses. In fact, Rivers doesn’t believe this particular team will ever be in a funk.
“I really don’t,” Rivers reiterated. “We may drop games here and there, but I think we’re going to win a lot more than we’re going to lose. This is a good basketball team – I think a great team.”
And now, it’ll finally be a well-rested team.
The two days off to start the week come at an opportune time both because of the hectic schedule preceding them and because of the opponent Wednesday, as the Clippers host the reigning Western Conference champion Warriors for the first time this year.
But, as Griffin said, the Clippers will take these two days off regardless of the next team on the schedule.
“Any time you get multiple days of rest, multiple days between games, it’s something you definitely have to take advantage of,” Griffin said.