Jamal Crawford celebrated his 35th birthday at Staples Center on Friday with a lot of love from fans.
Crawford was on the bench in street clothes and soaked in much applause when he was shown on the JumboTron. Crawford has missed his ninth game with a contused calf, and the best gift for Crawford would surely be to get back in the rotation for the Clippers. With 12 regular season games remaining and the playoffs looming, Doc Rivers was asked if there’s a chance Crawford could miss the postseason.
"There’s a chance. I don’t know right now," Rivers said. "He’s improved but not enough. I can tell you that. He’s nowhere near playing, in my opinion."
Crawford, who averages 16 points per game, is critical for the Clippers. Not only is he their best player off the bench, he has a knack for making big shots in big moments of fourth quarters. And he’s popular with his teammates, which translates into good oncourt chemistry.
A few days ago, Crawford tweeted: "So hard not hooping.."
Crawford, who’s been a strong candidate to win his second consecutive sixth man of the year award, is undergoing treatment and rehabilitation but now the Clippers are up against the clock with precious little time left before the playoffs.
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"I’m concerned. Make no mistake about that," Rivers said. "I do have concern with Jamal. I’ll say that."
The Clippers just got Blake Griffin back four games ago after a five-week absence and Matt Barnes returned to the lineup against the Wizards as well after dealing with a hamstring injury.
"It’s tough. Mal is a huge part of this team," Chris Paul said. "We need him, but guys have been stepping up. I tell ‘Mal all the time, we’re going to need him in the postseason more than we need him right now. He’s doing everything he can to get back on the court."