Clippers continue fine tuning ahead of Game 4
SAN FRANCISCO — The Clippers may have taken back home-court advantage in their first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, but it doesn’t mean there’s not work to do.
Friday morning, coach Doc Rivers rattled off a list of ways his team can get better, even though its 98-96 win Thursday night gave it a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Among them: closing out the game down the stretch, refusing to give up easy baskets, playing better defense and maintaining its pace offensively. That’s for starters.
"Offensively, when we played at the right pace, we were really good," said Rivers, who met with reporters at the team’s hotel. "When we played at the wrong pace, we were not. Defensively, we were good but not great. We can be a lot better on defense."
The Clippers have two days off before Game 4 at Oracle Arena, and although Rivers said he initially didn’t care for such a long break, it’s giving some of his players a chance to rest their injuries.
Chris Paul played Thursday with a high fever and a sore hamstring, Jamal Crawford is fighting through a chronic calf strain and Matt Barnes jammed his left big toe in the second half. All are expected to play Sunday.
"We need (the days off)," Rivers said. "I didn’t like it when I saw it because I don’t like being on the road just sitting around, even at the Four Seasons (Hotel). But now, the way it turned out, it’s a good break for us."
The Clippers took Friday off but will practice Saturday.
Rivers said that even though his team has a one-game lead, closing out the series won’t come without resistance from the Warriors.
"It was one win," he said. "This is going to be a hard series. We knew that going in. They’re good.
"Look at the West. There are no favorites in my opinion. You’ve just got to go play, and if you let up you’re going to lose. We’ve got a 2-1 lead, and as far as I’m concerned that means zero to us. We have to be better."
More replay options for refs?
Although NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league may look at giving game officials more leeway when looking at replays, Rivers isn’t so sure he likes the idea.
A replay might have benefited the Clippers in Game 1 when referees turned to their monitors to see if Paul or Golden State’s Draymond Green last touched the ball before it went out of bounds with 18.9 seconds left. What they couldn’t change was a non-foul call on Green, who cut off Paul before the play in question.
"Can we go home at some point?" Rivers said. "It’s a hard one. We all want them to get everything right, but how far does that go? Just think, right now we’re looking at one play and it takes five minutes. If you start doing that, it may take forever. I don’t know the answer."