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Clippers’ Doc Rivers: NBA preseason should be reduced to four games

Doc Rivers
Doc Rivers reacts after his team is called for a foul during the fourth quarter of the Clippers’ 108-105 win over the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 22 at Staples Center.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The Clippers play eight exhibition games this preseason, including three sets of back-to-backs. Coach Doc Rivers said he thinks that’s just too much and is proposing that the exhibition season should be cut in half.

“I think four [games], I really do,” Rivers said Wednesday. “I’m a big believer in that. I think if you play four preseason games and start the season a week earlier with the same number of games, now you can stretch the season. You don’t have as many back-to-backs, you can take away some of the four and fives. I think that would go a long way for us.”

The current schedule, Rivers said, is unfair to fans because players are often too tired to perform at their best.

Rivers said that by cutting the preseason to four games and then using the gained time to stretch the season’s 82 games over a longer period, there could be a significant difference in the level of play around the league.

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“It would be better basketball, more rested teams,” Rivers said. “We have some of these TV games where guys have played five games in eight nights, and they’re on the road, and the game looks terrible because they’re tired.”

Looking back at Wednesday’s game, Rivers may have a point. Rivers chose to rest Blake Griffin and Chris Paul against Golden State in Oakland on Tuesday. When he played them Wednesday against Phoenix at Staples Center, after they had a full day off, they had sensational games. Griffin finished with 35 points and seven rebounds; Paul had 34 points and nine assists.

The NBA has recently experimented with cutting down playing time.

The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics played a 44-minute preseason game, with four 11-minute quarters, on Oct. 19. Games are normally 48 minutes, with 12-minute quarters.

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The game lasted 1 hour, 58 minutes -- about 15 to 30 minutes less than a typical game.

“You noticed it a little bit when you are subbing at the start of quarters, but I thought the flow with one less minute was actually a little bit better in the second and fourth,” Celtics Coach Brad Stevens told reporters.

Nets Coach Lionel Hollins said he “didn’t really notice” the change. 

Rivers acknowledged that he didn’t watch the game, but said he thinks he’d prefer a shortened preseason over shortened games.


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