LOS ANGELES — The L.A. Clippers have been hampered by injuries all year, but they’re hoping their latest injury won’t hurt them nearly as much
During Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Wizards, guard Austin Rivers exited the game with a left hamstring strain. He played eight scoreless minutes and left a huge void on the Clipper bench. Ahead of Saturday afternoon’s matchup against their inner-city rival Los Angeles Lakers, head coach Doc Rivers delivered an update on his son’s injured hamstring when asked about his likelihood of missing the final five games of the season.
“I would say most likely, yes,” said the elder Rivers about his son Austin missing the remainder of the regular season. “I think it’s a little more serious [than we initially thought].”
To make matters a bit worse, Doc says the younger Rivers’ injury could potentially hamper him into the postseason, but says the team just doesn’t know how much time he will end up missing.
“We don’t know yet,” added Rivers. “We just don’t know. I would say it’s 50/50 [chance he is/ is not ready], but we don’t know right now.”
The Clippers have been no strangers to hamstring injuries this season. Guard Chris Paul suffered a hamstring strain against the San Antonio Spurs during a game on December 22, 2016, and subsequently missed seven of the following eight games. He did return after three games, but felt abnormally fatigued and the team decided to hold him out until he was back at 100%. Another Clippers guard in J.J. Redick suffered a hamstring strain against the Lakers on Christmas Day, just three days after Paul’s injury, but missed only two games because of it.
Normally the first or second man off the Clipper bench, Rivers has provided much-needed athleticism and scoring for a second-unit that also boasts scoring punch Jamal Crawford. Without Rivers, the bench unit mainly consisting of Crawford, Raymond Felton, and Marreese Speights will have to shoulder a lot of the scoring load as well. Since he’s gone down, seemingly every bench player on the team not named Jamal Crawford has struggled to get anything going offensively and defensively.
“Well, it’s a loss, but we’ve had injuries all year so that can’t be the reason,” said coach Rivers on his son’s absence impacting the second-unit. “Obviously, he helps offensively, but really defensively, too. You take one of the main ball handlers out of that group and they’re keying in on Jamal [Crawford a little bit more.]”
Coach Rivers has repeatedly stated that he values player health and consistency over anything else, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the team take their time in bringing Austin back. If he does indeed miss the remainder of the regular season, Rivers will have missed exactly three weeks and six games.
After four years of struggling to find his place on the NBA hardwood, Rivers has played his best basketball this season averaging 12 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 three-pointers per game on 44.2% shooting from the field and a career-high 37.1% from beyond the arc.