With four games remaining before the postseason begins, Doc Rivers hasn’t been able to see the LA Clippers at full strength in the NBA bubble, which has been consistent with an annoying theme for the title contender all season.
Without Montrezl Harrell and Patrick Beverley and with multiple guards on a minutes restriction, the Clippers still beat the Dallas Mavericks 126-111 on Thursday in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. But Rivers wants to see his team whole before the playoffs begin.
“That’s a good question,” the coach said when asked where the Clippers are on a scale of 1 to 10. “I don’t know, 6 or 7. Still have Trez out. We still have several guys that have minute restrictions that put a major problem on us tonight, especially with guards. We still have Pat out.”
Harrell left the team on July 17 and the forward recently posted that his grandmother passed away. Once he returns to Florida, Harrell will have to enter quarantine for at least four days depending on testing and meeting NBA protocols. Harrell is expected to miss at least two more games as the Clippers play a back-to-back set on Saturday and Sunday.
Beverley suffered a left calf strain in the first quarter of Tuesday’s 117-115 loss to Phoenix and did not play against the Mavericks. The Clippers could hold out their starting point guard out of at least one more game. Rivers has said they are proceeding with caution.
Rivers’ team has been short-handed since the beginning of the NBA restart. Ivica Zubac and Landry Shamet said they both tested positive for the coronavirus and were not able to get to Orlando until the last week of July. Marcus Morris and JaMychal Green also had delayed arrivals to Orlando. And then Harrell, Beverley and Lou Williams all departed the NBA bubble to tend to excused family emergencies during the span of a week in mid-July.
Williams had to complete a 10-day quarantine before he could rejoin the team and has been on a minutes restriction the past two games.
This season, the Clippers have had their full roster available only 11 times due to injuries and other circumstances. They’ve had even fewer practices with the whole team available.
“I think it’s been three with the entire group,” Rivers said of having everybody available in practice this season.
“It would be nice to have a stretch where our whole team was available, practicing and playing,” he added. “But we haven’t had that all year. It’s been amazing. We just got to keep rolling.”