When the announcement came down that former Boston Celtics‘ head coach Doc Rivers would be joining the Los Angeles Clippers‘ brain-trust, his reputation as a defensive radical proceeded him in a city where no one is ever on-time.
The Celtics were a veteran team closer to the age of their head coach than the rookie at the end of their bench. Former walking double-double Kevin Garnett could barely walk. And Paul Pierce‘s “old man game” was becoming more of a description of how he played. Yet, the Lion Pride Celtics fought, rebounded and defended their way to an NBA Championship.
When Rivers loaded the moving van heading west, there were two things he knew he didn’t take with him. A coat and a year supply of Tiger Balm. He was joining an organization still cloud hoping over a 56-win regular season in 2012-13, with their best player Chris Paul–in his prime–and 25-year-old, car jumping, rim running three-time All-Star, Blake Griffin, who despite his generational talent, had areas on the court that were a liability to his team. Griffin needed a coach, while Paul wanted someone he could trust to push him to be a winner.
In River’s assessment of the his new team, defense was something only applied to initiate a jail break to the other end of the floor and do the unspeakable on defense. Rivers articulated early that playing to get on Sports Center would do just that, and only that. But the Clippers are not a team built for a half court wrestling match. This Clippers team has to play in space. They are stable of young thoroughbreds that rather beat teams to spots rather than have the big bodies of the leagues leaning on them for stretches at a time.
Rivers has a point guard at his disposal who runs a break better than anyone in the league, yet Paul is equally as efficient in the half-court. Rivers also has something in Los Angeles that he didn’t have in Boston athletes–born runners and leapers that can’t legally park in handicap zones.
ChristopherBrown is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Followhim on Twitter @whatrockschris. Like him on Facebook. Christopher-Rant Sports