Austin Rivers ready for first postseason with dad Doc and Clippers
Doc Rivers has plenty of postseason experience, but for his son, Austin, this is his first time in the playoffs.
Austin Rivers seemed loose and free of nerves at the Clippers practice facility Sunday morning on the day of Game 1 of the Clippers' first-round Western Conference playoff series against San Antonio.
While he was answering a question, a cameraman moved the microphone stand up in order to get better sound from Rivers.
Not missing an opportunity for a joke, he stopped mid-answer and said: "Was Chris (Paul) just here?"
The 22-year-old Austin Rivers - whose dad Doc engineered a trade that brought him to Los Angeles by way of New Orleans in a three-team trade this season - poked fun of himself as well when asked if he was growing a playoff beard.
"I'm cutting all this. This is ridiculous," Austin Rivers said. "I look nasty. I got a haircut last night. Baby steps, man."
He'll be taking more than baby steps in Game 1 when he is expected to contribute in a reserve role for the Clippers. In January, Austin and Doc Rivers became the first son to play for his father in NBA history. They'll mark another first today when Austin gets in his first playoff game as no son has ever played for his father on the same NBA team in the postseason, either.
Watch Austin Rivers on morning of his first playoffs cracking a joke. Clearly, loose! Keep your eye on th https://t.co/a2Xdi9QwCl— Jill Painter Lopez (@jillpainter) April 19, 2015
Benches shorten during the postseason, but Jamal Crawford, Rivers and Glen "Big Baby" Davis are expected to garner the most minutes from off the bench. Austin Rivers was brought to Los Angeles by Doc Rivers, both coach and president of basketball operations, for his defense first.
Austin Rivers was in junior high and high school in Orlando when his dad was coaching the Celtics, so he wasn't always around Kevin Garnett & Co. But he sure learned a lot about the postseason from his dad and now Clippers teammates.
"Just intensity. Everything is raised up a level," Austin Rivers said. "I'm just coming in focused and learn from the older guys, Chris, Jamal, J.J. (Redick), guys who have been doing this at this level for a long time."
Austin Rivers didn't go to many of those NBA playoff games when his dad led the Celtics to the NBA Finals in 2008, but he was there for the series-clincher.
"The one game I went to was the one they won. That was a special moment for the Celtics franchise and my father and that whole team," said Austin Rivers, who was an eighth-grader at the time.
"I grew up around it. My father was in it a lot," Rivers said of the postseason. "It's different when you're out there. Whether I was there at the game or watching like any other player. It's basketball. It's five-on-five. The stakes are higher, seven-game series.You're not going to lose it all in one night, and you're not going to win it all in one night. It's about being steady and coming to play every night and being consistent. Having fun. It's something I've looked to do for a long time now."
While outsiders marveled over the dynamics of Austin playing for his father in January, Austin Rivers' immediate thoughts were about the postseason.
"The first thing I thought of when I got traded here was 'I'm going to the playoffs,' Austin Rivers said. "You know this team is going to the playoffs whether they lost four in a row. There's certain teams you know. I knew the Spurs were going to the playoffs. Did you expect them to make that run? That's typical Spurs basketball. That puts it in your mindframe at that time ... It makes you become a better player."
And being around players like Redick, who has been to the playoffs all nine years of his career, and Paul and Blake Griffin sure helps. And Glen Davis, too, as he's the only player on the Clippers roster who has won a championship. He was on Doc Rivers' Celtics' team in 2008 that won the title.
Asked how he helps young players like Rivers as they take part in the postseason for the first time, Paul said: "Just tell him what I see at times. The other thing is you've got to let them play. The only way you're ever going to understand stuff is you've got to learn and learn as you're playing. A lot of times you don't want somebody constantly in your ear."
That's why Doc Rivers isn't constantly in his son's ear about the playoffs, either.
"I literally have not had a conversation with him from a father-son point of view," Doc Rivers said. "I would say I've talked to D.J. and Chris far more than I've talked to Austin over the last four days. Maybe I'm being a bad dad. I don't even know. Maybe I should have. I haven't even thought about it. My daughter is around me all the time. She hears what I say. I'm sure she's telling him everything I say anyway. I haven't done much."
The father-son duo is treating this like business as usual, this postseason father-son stuff.
"First time I talked to him (about playoffs) was when we were going over our sets," Austin Rivers said. "I talk to him, probably now since I work with him, just as much as any other player to be honest with you. We're just extremely focused at this point. It's a blessing to be here for me. I'm very excited.
"I was watching the games last night, and they had a couple of players who had been in the league for 8-9 years and it's their first time in the playoffs. That shows you the grind and how hard it can be to get here. I'm very excited to be part of this and play hard and try to help this team."