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Clippers winning because Doc Rivers got Chris Paul to give up the rock more

Apr 4, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

Chris Paul AP

Chris Paul is a maestro at the point. He’s the conductor not only keeping the beat but also bringing out the right parts at the right time. Yes, he can score when needed, get steal, put up some gaudy numbers, but that’s not what makes him special. Rather it’s his ability to see the game, to probe a defense then exploit a weakness that makes him better than anyone at his position right now.

He was used to doing that with the ball in his hands — and when you have Chris Paul you put the ball in his hands. Most coaches would.

Doc Rivers came in and told him to give it up more.

It took a while but now Chris Paul is, and with that the Clippers have moved a step closer to title contender status.

Kate Fagen detailed the relationship between CP3 and Rivers, and how it impacted the Clippers, in a must-read piece for ESPN The Magazine.

Under Del Negro, the Clippers leaned heavily on Paul and Griffin, especially at the end of games and in the playoffs, when the long grind of a back-and-forth series demands superior half-court execution. In these key moments, Del Negro would inevitably run an isolation play for one of his stars. Just as frequently, the defense would send a double-team, and because iso plays aren’t usually designed with strong second and third options, the Clippers would find themselves exposed like a king on a chessboard — desperate and surrounded, looking for an escape route that often didn’t exist.

“I think Chris realized last year in the playoffs, holding the ball, getting double-teamed, getting down to late shot clocks every time, you’re not going to win that way,” Rivers says. “Movement, quick decisions, pulling it and swinging it and trusting the pass — that makes Chris impossible to guard. And I think he realizes it now….

Or, as Rivers puts it, “We’re trying to get Chris to see, and I don’t think it’s anything we had to talk him into, that having the ball in his hands is never a bad thing, but when the ball touches everyone’s hands, it’s a great thing.”

Great not good, that’s the Spurs mantra under Gregg Popovich and it’s the vision Rivers is trying to bring to the Clippers.

Since returning from injury and seeing Blake Griffin step up in that time Paul seems to be buying in more. He saw how the team played without him and one of the smartest players in the game saw how he could fit in that and make it better.

If Paul is playing like this, if he is moving the ball, it is one of the three big keys to make the Clippers legitimate contenders (along with smart defense from DeAndre Jordan and a healthy bench unit).

And if he needs to at some point, he can keep the ball in his hands for a play and create. He just needs to pick his spots with that now.

  1. lj312chicago - Apr 4, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    At the end of the day…. They’re still the clippers…

    • k3nn3k - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      which means what exactly?

      • spthegr8 - Apr 4, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        ^^^ That even with all of their Reg season success, they will blow it in the Playoff’s.!!

      • k3nn3k - Apr 5, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        That’s a pretty ignorant statement. If you take your logic then nobody but the previous champion can win this years’ championship. Just because a team has never been to the Finals doesn’t mean they will never get their. And with the pieces the Clips have in place they definitely have a chance to win.

        The Clippers have been going through a pretty good progression over the last 4 years. They went from being the joke in LA, to making a playoff spot, to being Pacific Division Champions, and now a title contender to win it all.

        This ain’t yo mama’s clippers.

  2. spthegr8 - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    The Clippers have a GOOD team, their best team to date……..BUUUUUUT, they are not good enough to beat the Spurs or the Thunder in a 7 game series. Just keeping it 100!!!

    • Wammy Giveaway - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:19 PM

      Can the Clippers beat the Warriors, the Grizzlies, the Mavericks, or any of the teams currently locked in the playoffs?

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:02 PM

      If the Clips keep playing like this they’re going to the Finals. I can’t even hate.

  3. moseskkim - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:19 PM

    the clippers are a different team. having a coach in Rivers understands that ISOing a 6’0″ (if that) pg all 4th quarter of a big game is not the way to win is HUGE. i know we like to look at the clippers track record and CP3’s lack of big playoff success but vinny del negro sucks as a coach, griffin got much much better, clippers have some more depth, and a higher playoff seed. dont count them out just by thinking about their past failures.

    • pharohislife - Apr 4, 2014 at 8:58 PM

      Exactly, I still laugh at the people who say Doc Rivers is an Over-Rated coach. There’s a reason Chris Paul literally begged for him to be brought in this past summer. The man’s a Top 3 Coach and there’s no discussion.

      • jrob23 - Apr 5, 2014 at 9:38 AM

        except you know…facts that suggest without 3 HOF in Boston he is just another guy. The fact the Clippers at best (if they win out) improved by 3 games. So, there is a discussion to be had. Instead of ‘Paul begged him to come coach’ so he must be great. Poor logic

  4. sjtorpitt - Apr 4, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    They’d smack Portland.

  5. mrlaloosh - Apr 4, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    CP-Me will revert to his losing play under the bright lights of the playoffs.
    2 round, maybe, and out. Book it.

    • ranfan12 - Apr 4, 2014 at 6:37 PM

      Maybe, but iverson can give the ball up and make it to the finals, there’s no reason cp3 can’t.

  6. sportsfan18 - Apr 4, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    This is all well and good… to say.

    But Chris Paul’s usage percentage this season is HIGHER than last season.

    Chris Paul’s usage percentage this season is HIGHER than three of his last four seasons.

  7. ufools - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    All you smack talkers better come back and swallow it when the Clips at least make the WCF. SA and OKC are the only west teams that have a shot to beat a healthy Clips team in a series. Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, GS, Portland…they don’t have a shot. None.

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