With Chris Paul and Blake Griffin out, DeAndre Jordan will have to step up in Game 5 on Wednesday at Staples Center/AP photo by Craig Mitchelldyer
Clippers coach Doc Rivers was not in a good mood late Monday night. No one could blame him. As he sat on the dais addressing reporters following his team’s 98-84 loss at Portland in Game 4 that ended up being an absolutely disastrous night, Rivers was asked if he had concern that the Trail Blazers had wrested momentum away from the Clippers with their back-to-back wins at Moda Center in Portland, which tied the first-round playoff series 2-2.
Rivers was terse, but respectful, in his response.
“We’re going home,” Rivers said, referring to Game 5 on Wednesday night at Staples Center. “All they’ve done is win two games at home, just like we won two games at home. We’ve been in adverse situations all year with guys out, but guys have come through and I expect us to do that at our place.”
This is exactly what Rivers should say. As a leader, he has to exude confidence, regardless of the situation. That’s why he’s considered to be a strong leader of men.
Still, it’s going to be tough now for the Clippers to accomplish anything real good in the playoffs. As we all know, power forward Blake Griffin has been deemed out of the playoffs by the team because of his still-partially torn left quad tendon that was aggravated in Game 4. Point guard Chris Paul is out indefinitely after having surgery Tuesday to repair a fractured third metacarpal in his right hand, an injury also sustained Monday. This news came Tuesday, the day after Rivers made the aforementioned comment. But Rivers knew it was going to be bad news. His face showed it.
The word “indefinitely” comes from a Clippers news release. Basically, it’s a 4 to 6 weeks thing. That means if the Clippers were to win this series, beat Golden State in the conference semifinals and either San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the finals to reach the NBA Finals without Paul and Griffin, Paul could possibly come back.
Well, chances of that happening with the two best players on the team out, are about slim and none. What’s a shame for the Clippers and their fans is they looked so good the first two games of this series. There had to be hope they could give the Warriors at least a fight next round – especially now that MVP Steph Curry will likely miss the first few games because of a sprained knee.
One thing’s for sure, it will be interesting to see how the Clippers come out in Wednesday’s game. Are they broken? We’ll see.