What do you do when you inherit a young, talented, and restless team that lacks discipline in just the second week of the NBA season? You take them to South Beach.
At least that what Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers had to look forward to as the team journeyed east to begin a three-game road trip, Rivers’ first with his new team. The Clippers left the state of California with a 3-1 record in the Western Conference. Yet, when the Clippers return home, they’ll be middle of the pack, losing their second game in as many days to a Miami Heat team that has looked vulnerable to younger teams with a lot less to lose.
One would think that Clippers are such a team, but the Heat proved that what the Clippers flaunt in height and athleticism, they lack in grit and brawn.
The Clippers lost to the Heat by five points, but the score didn’t tell the whole story. They were outplayed in the second half by a Heat team that seemed to be playing at half speed for three quarters, patronizing a group of wannabe winners from the west coast. Rivers’ two NBA Finals appearances included one championship with a group of grumpy old men. As head coach of the Boston Celtics, River did not have to teach toughness or heart.
In fact, he had to temper it, understanding that the NBA season is long and too much intensity could lead to the team burning out later.
This is not a problem he has in Los Angeles. Chris Paul plays like an angry man. He’s also the toughest on this Clipper team, a problem that the Heat exploited. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan accounted for 38 points 28 rebounds in their 102-97 loss in Miami. Their stat line by itself looks impressive, but most of their production came in the first half of the game.
When the game was on the line, they were getting pushed aside and dominated in the paint by a team inferior in size.
The Heat didn’t play like they wanted it more, they played like the game was theirs to win. Yet, the only Clippers player that would take exception to such a dismissive stance is the smallest man on floor surrounded by players whose interest in the game was its prettier moments.
ChristopherBrown is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @whatrockschris. Like him on Facebook. Christopher-Rant Sports.