Notebook: Backcourt Minutes, Coaching Buddies, All-Stars & More
LOS ANGELES – The more Raymond Felton racks up minutes with Chris Paul out, the less energy he’ll have to do what he does best.
Felton’s defensive pressure is one of his greatest traits, and head coach Doc Rivers knows it’ll be a balancing act going forward for his shorthanded backcourt with Paul sidelined the next six to eight weeks figuring out how to divvy the minutes.
“We don’t want to tax Raymond and Austin (Rivers) to the point that they’re not doing what they do well,” Doc Rivers said. “Raymond’s a great ball pressure guy. If you start playing him 38 minutes, his ball pressure goes down.
The Clippers learned that a few weeks ago, having already played without both Paul and Blake Griffin at the end of December and the beginning of the month. Doc Rivers said he thought players’ rising minutes during that stretch might’ve played into some of their losses.
“We’ve learned a lot from the last time,” Doc Rivers said.
Still, the Clippers aren’t left with a bevy of options. J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford will likely see their minutes increase to counter the fatigue that could set in for Felton and Austin Rivers, and Felton said he needs to know when to turn up his defensive pressure and when to back off.
Felton looks forward to the added opportunity, but he wishes it was in different circumstances with Paul out.
“Other than that, any time you can play more minutes, it’s always a good thing,” Felton said. “I’d rather have Chris back, obviously, having one of our key guys out. But, him getting himself together, get ready, get his hand together, make this push toward the end of the season and see how far we can go in the playoffs.”
Two good friends with plenty of history faced off Thursday night, though neither was on the court playing.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau won a ring together in Boston, where Thibodeau served as Rivers’ associate head coach from 2007-10.
“He’s one of my closest friends,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously, when you win a championship with somebody, we’re very, very close. I bounce a lot of stuff off him. He’s done it all. He’s got a great perspective on things. He was a great player, he did the TV thing, he’s done the head coaching thing, he’s done the management thing, being a president, taking the challenge on.”
But of all the things Rivers has accomplished, the one Thibodeau draws on most was his relationship working with Celtics manager Danny Ainge.
“He had a big voice there,” Thibodeau said. “Just watching how he and Danny communicated every day, I learned a lot from that and just the way he studies the game.”
Chris Paul finished fifth among Western Conference guards and DeAndre Jordan finished 10th among Western Conference frontcourt players in All-Star voting.
The votes for the five All-Star starters in each conference were decided by 50 percent fan vote, 25 percent player vote and 25 percent media vote.
Paul finished fifth in fan voting, sixth in player voting and tied for fourth in media voting for West guards. Jordan finished seventh in player voting, 11th in fan voting and tied for eighth in media voting among West frontcourt players.
In addition, despite missing the last month following a right knee procedure, Blake Griffin still finished ninth in fan voting and tied for 20th in player voting in the same category.
Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis make up the West’s starting lineup, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler and LeBron James make up the East’s starting lineup.
The All-Star reserves will be unveiled Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. on TNT. The All-Star Game will take place Feb. 19 in New Orleans.
Head coach Doc Rivers was asked about his lasting impressions of President Barack Obama, as he now leaves office with Donald Trump set to be inaugurated. Here’s what Doc had to say:
“He’s meant a lot. Forget all the things that he did. What stands out to me with the President is his humility. We talk about that a lot in the locker room. I think the only way you can be a great team and a great individual is you have to have a sense of humility about you. You should also have great confidence. But his grace and humility is what stand out to me, because I thought that he was in it right from the start, and a lot of people didn’t want him to be successful. He never complained about that. He just kept doing his job, and it’s a great example of what our players have to do every day.
“I also appreciate how much he loved our game. He loved basketball – sports, in general – but he really likes basketball, and he’s befriended Chris (Paul) and (Stephen) Curry and LeBron (James) and all these guys, they’ve actually had a chance to spend time with him. To spend time with a guy like that, who is who he is, I think has really helped our league in a big way. It’s helped our league grow up, and that’s been good.”