Doc Rivers has a simple message for the Clippers as they prepare to play the Boston Celtics on Wednesday before getting a week off for the All-Star break.
“Finish. Finish this trip out,” the Clippers coach said after they defeated the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night. “Boston has lost two in a row. They’re getting two days off to prepare. They lost pretty poorly [to Cleveland on Sunday]. They are going to come with a lot of energy. So if we’re not ready for that energy, the break will start early.”
The Clippers are 2-1 on this four-game trip, and a win over the Celtics would make it that much sweeter.
For more incentive, the Clippers are in the playoff hunt in the tough Western Conference. They began play Tuesday in ninth place, just half a game behind two teams tied for seventh.
The Clippers also are only one game ahead of the Utah Jazz, who have won 10 straight games.
“I think it’s a little bit easier for us because we’re on the road,” forward Tobias Harris said. “Regardless of anything, we’ve got to continue to lock in. We know that we need this game. On top of that, we’re fighting for something and that’s to get a good seed in the playoffs and make that run. I think that’s where our focus is.”
Harris said because the Clippers are still trying to learn how to play together as a group, they won’t look ahead to getting time off.
Milos Teodosic was the latest to come back, playing Monday night at Brooklyn after missing two games with a right foot injury.
Avery Bradley, acquired from the Detroit Pistons in the Blake Griffin trade, still is trying to get his rhythm.
Austin Rivers has played in the last three games after missing 18 with a right ankle injury.
“So this is a group of new guys and we’re still trying to understand each other, learn each other,” Harris said. “Since I just got here, I knew the All-Star break was coming up, but you don’t even sort of expect it. I’m ready to play. We’ve got to play all the games to build this chemistry. But we’ve just got to stay focused and understand that we’ve got to go out and handle our business.”
When: Wednesday, 5 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket, ESPN; Radio: 570.
Update: The Celtics rank second in the NBA in fewest points allowed, giving up 99.1 a game. They hold opponents to a league-low 43.3% shooting from the field and 34.1% from three-point range, third-best in the league.