Clippers’ Austin Rivers out with hamstring strain, could miss start of playoffs

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There may be resentment in the locker room toward his favorite son treatment and larger contract than he deserved, but the Clippers could use Austin Rivers in the playoffs. He’s become a replacement-level reserve point guard probably having his best NBA season, averaging 12 points, 2.8 assists, a 54.5 true shooting percentage, and he’s a threat from three.

Now the Clippers may have to get by without him for the rest of the regular season, and maybe into the playoffs, due to a hamstring strain, reports Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.

Rivers told Brodrick Turner of the Los Angeles Times he likely is not back until the middle of the first round, at the earliest.

“I’m disappointed,” Austin Rivers said. “I was looking forward to this year’s playoffs. The goal was game one of the playoffs, but it’s looking like hopefully midfirst round, early second round. We’ll see. You never know, I might heal faster than I think so.

“In my mind, my goal is to be back by the first round, for game one or game two, which is ideal. So, we’ll see.”

The injury occurred Wednesday night against the Wizards. Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton will pick up the slack.

In the playoffs, Rivers likely would get fewer than the almost 28 a night he gets most games, but the minutes he got with Chris Paul out would matter — they could use his offensive punch. The Clippers seemed locked into a 4/5 first round series against the Utah Jazz, who lean heavily on George Hill at the point with Dante Exum getting a few minutes behind him.