Rivers Could Rest Players In Upcoming Stretch


Rowan Kavner

LOS ANGELES – The quantity of games in the coming stretch could lead to time off for some Clippers players.

Head coach Doc Rivers said he’s just going to watch his team, and there’s a chance some players could sit one of the next few games.

“There’s just a lot of games and there’s a lot of travel,” Rivers said. “It’s just hard. So we’re just going to watch our guys. I’m going to be very cautious.”

The Clippers play either every other night or back-to-back until the start of 2015. This upcoming stretch is particularly grueling, with the Clippers traveling Thursday for a Friday night game in Denver. After the game, they return to Los Angeles in time for Saturday night’s home matchup.

The next day, they travel Sunday to get ready for Monday night’s game in San Antonio. After Monday night’s game, they go straight to Atlanta for Tuesday’s game against the Hawks before returning home once again prior to the Christmas Day matchup.

To recap, that’s four games in four different time zones in a span of five days.

“You’ve got to rest as much as possible, get off your feet,” said Jamal Crawford. “It’s a fine line, though, because you’ve got to stay sharp as far as working out. It’s just hard, because there’s nothing you can do besides rest and taking care of yourself.”

Chris Paul said he tries not to think too much about this stretch because it’d drive him crazy.

“Just play the game,” Paul said. “It’s tough. That’s why it’s very important we get our rest. Doc makes sure we try to stay off our feet as much as possible.”

There’s no specific formula for Rivers to follow while deciding when to rest players. As of Wednesday night, he said he had no idea which players would be off or which games he’d give off. Rivers said if players look tired, he may give them one or even two games off.

The Clippers’ players appreciate the way Rivers looks out for them during the year. Rivers doesn’t practice his players too often during the season, and there are cases like Thursday, when scheduled practices get cancelled to give his guys rest.

Rivers said his basic philosophy is to practice when he really thinks he can get something out of it.

“If you don’t, why do it?” Rivers said. “We still are in the gym. It’s not like guys take it completely off…Guys come to the gym, guys on the starting unit who think they need more shots or need to go over film, they’re going to do that as well.”

Crawford said Rivers is “really good” at providing the team the right amount of rest. He said Rivers knows his team, when to get on players, when to push players more in practice and when to reel it back.

Paul knows Rivers gives the team that luxury because the head coach trusts his players to take it upon themselves to get their work in. Paul said when practices aren’t scheduled or when practices get cancelled, the Clippers are still going to take care of themselves.

“At the end of the day, all of us have to be professionals and come in here and get our work in,” Paul said. “We have to be responsible. If we can’t handle it and things like that, then I’m sure he’ll handle it and take care of it. But I think we have a great group of pros on our team.”

Paul said when fatigue does set in during this stretch, the Clippers need to push through. He thinks at times the fatigue could be more mental than physical, but fatigue can’t be an excuse.

“The other team may be coming off a back-to-back,” Paul said. “The other thing is, nobody’s going to feel sorry for you. They’re not saying in their locker room, ‘Those guys are kind of tired tonight, so don’t go too hard at them.’ No, they want you, especially on nights you’re tired.”

As the point guard, Paul knows it’s on him when teammates look fatigued to get his group’s energy and pace back up, particularly in this four-game slate. Paul got back on track Wednesday night against the Pacers, dishing out nine assists with five steals and only one turnover.

“My job is to set the tone offensively and defensively every night,” Paul said. “I’m guarding the ball-handler, I’m guarding the point guard and I’m in charge of setting the pace for the offense. It starts with me, and I’ve got to come with it.”


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