It has been a down year for the
Their top players are all playing fewer minutes than last season, the result of a deeper bench and Coach
Forward Blake Griffin's minutes are down just a touch, to 34.9 from 35.2, but he still ranks only 24th in the
The benefits may not be apparent for a few more months.
"The fresher you can be once you get to the playoffs," Paul said, "it's always a plus."
Last season, Griffin ranked 14th in the league in minutes played and Paul 17th. The heavy usage may have been a factor when Paul suffered a strained left hamstring in Game 7 of the Clippers' first-round playoff series victory against the San Antonio Spurs.
"Did that come from the whole season or did that just come from a crazy-hard first-round series?" Rivers asked Monday. "I mean, who knows that answer, but my goal is to be as good as we can be, have as many guys as good as they can be and to be as fresh as we can be."
Rivers has done that with substitution patterns that have resulted in all-bench lineups. Seven reserves are averaging at least 14 minutes a game, with Jamal Crawford (25.0 minutes) and
"There's a method to our madness," Doc Rivers said, "and our thought is at the end of the year, hopefully we're fresher."
Rivers noted that his best players having logged fewer minutes may have already helped the Clippers win the finale of two recent five-game trips. They tapped into a reserve of energy to beat the
"We stuck around long enough then all of a sudden they got energy from somewhere and they won a game," Rivers said, "so that's a good sign."
Rivers said Griffin's having been in excellent condition before suffering a partially tore left quadriceps tendon should accelerate his return once he is cleared to play. The Clippers expect to have an update on Griffin's timetable by the middle of the week. … Forward
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