Clippers coach Doc Rivers is approaching the preseason with the same philosophy as his offense.
Read and react.
The Clippers open the NBA’s preseason schedule Sunday against the Sydney Kings at the University of Hawaii’s Stan Sheriff Center, a game Rivers enters with few expectations but much curiosity about a roster he’s still getting to know.
“I go into the first preseason games just like you guys, sit there and watch as much as I can from being a coach and then you’ll see where you’re at,” Rivers said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, really. It really doesn’t. You kind of judge things you need to put in, things you need to work on, different combinations, that’s all I do.”
Before training camp opened Rivers said he believed the Clippers could become elite defensively but that their offensive potential was an unknown. Those feelings haven’t changed after five days of practice.
Turnovers are a concern, which isn’t unusual for training camp, but Rivers attributed some of the sloppier play thus far to a shift in offensive style that relies less on set plays and instead allows nearly any player to handle the ball.
“The tough part about when you involve a lot more people handling the ball, you bring in more chances of turnovers,” Rivers said. “There is no coincidence that teams that only have the one guy that just pounds the ball, they usually don’t turn the ball over a lot. I don’t know if they win titles, either. They just don’t turn the ball over a lot. I like the multiple-ballhandler teams.”
The team likely will have one fewer ballhandler Sunday.
Guard Milos Teodosic sat out for a second consecutive practice Saturday as a precaution after injuring his hamstring and Rivers doubted he will play against the Kings. He is the only player on a 20-man camp roster to miss much practice time, and that continuity on the court has allowed Rivers to learn more about a team he admittedly had little feel for.
“I don’t know what we’re going to be or how good or any of that; it’s just a fun group to coach,” Rivers said. “Today we were supposed to go an hour and five minutes but they don’t want to get off the floor. They want to keep going. I had to stop. That’s just who they are, they’re a fun group. You’ll know when they play games about where we’re going to be, how good we’re going to be, but I know they’re a great group of guys.”
Said guard Lou Williams: “Going five straight days can sometimes wear guys down but we didn’t see that. I’m pretty excited about what we got going.”
This is the first of five preseason games for the Clippers and their lone game outside of Southern California. They next face Minnesota on Wednesday at Staples Center before closing against the Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Israel’s Maccabi Haifa.
The Sydney Kings feature Andrew Bogut, whose 13-year NBA career ended last winter upon his release from the Lakers. Clippers forward Luc Mbah a Moute began his career in Milwaukee alongside Bogut and called him “still one of my good friends in the NBA.” Also playing for Sydney is former UCLA forward David Wear.
That scouting report is more than Williams knew about Sunday’s opponent.
“I know absolutely nothing,” he said, smiling. “We’ll see what happens.”