LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul, who had missed the last couple Clippers games with a groin strain, will suit up and play against the Golden State Warriors in a much-anticipated showdown on Thursday night.
After playing down his chances the last couple days, Doc Rivers said pregame that Chris Paul had “looked normal, looked great” in practice Wednesday and went through shootaround on Thursday. He was on the court 90 minutes before tip-off at Staples Center going through his usual warmup routine.
CP3 needs to be on the court (and Austin Rivers needs to be coming off the bench) if the Clippers are going to hand the Warriors their first loss of the season. The Clipper offense settles down and is much smarter with Paul running the show — the Clippers score 14.1 more points per 100 possessions when he plays than when he sits. The Clipper defense is also 1.2 points per 100 better when he plays.
The Warriors are off to a 12-0 start. The fastest start for a defending champs in the ’95 Rockets, who started 15-0. If the Warriors win Thursday, they face a difficult back-to-back against the Bulls on Friday.
While CP3 is suiting up, J.J. Redick is “most likely” out for the Clippers, Rivers said. Rivers is still recovering from back spasms. Warriors’ interim coach Luke Walton wasn’t buying it, saying he was prepping as if Redick would play — and Redick was on the court 45 minutes before the game getting up some shots. If Redick does not play it means extended minutes for Jamal Crawford, something that could be a defensive challenge for the Clippers against the NBA’s best backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
The Warriors will be without Shaun Livingston, their backup point guard.