The Clippers starting power forward spot is locked up — Blake Griffin is pretty good at his job.
But after a strong summer by Doc Rivers the GM adding needed depth to the roster, Doc Rivers the coach has options. That will include going small at times — play Griffin (or DeAndre Jordan) at the five and put Paul Pierce at the four. When the Wizards’ Randy Wittman finally put Pierce at the four more in the playoffs the Washington thrived, and Doc Rivers says he plans to do the same thing, as reported by Gary Washburn of the Washington Post.
But what he really plans to do is rest Pierce so he can run him out during the playoffs.
“Paul will be great,” Rivers said Wednesday. “I don’t want to overuse him, I know that. I don’t even know how we’re going to use him yet. I’m going to play him at [power forward] a lot, but what I want him to be is healthy in the playoffs. So however we can figure that out, that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Lack of depth did in the Clippers last playoffs. They had to play their starting five — Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes (now gone), Griffin, and Jordan) crazy heavy minutes in the regular season. Then they had a knock-down, drag-out first-round series win against the Spurs. Next the Clippers were up 3-1 (and with a double-digit lead in the third quarter of Game 5) against Houston, but when the Rockets played with a new level of desperation the Clippers didn’t have anything left in the tank to match it. They lost three straight. This season Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich and others have been added to the roster to give the Clippers depth they need for that kind of challenge.
That depth also gives Rivers lineup options — just like having Pierce does. He likely starts at the three for the Clippers, and will see time at the four, but they can use Smith in there too with three guards (CP3, Redick and Jamal Crawford) or a host of other choices. Rivers is a good motivator and an underrated tactician who is in a strong position now.
The Clippers are legit title contenders thanks to Rivers the GM now. It’s just about Rivers the coach keeping his charges fresher than they were a year ago.