The Los Angeles Clippers (46-25) are on a four-game win streak, tied with Phoenix for the league’s second-longest current win streak behind the Golden State Warriors, who are on a five-game winning streak. This week, the Clippers will take their streak to the East Coast for contests against the New York Knicks (14-56), Philadelphia 76ers (17-53), and Boston Celtics (30-39).
“Every single game from here on out is important, but these three especially,” said Blake Griffin, who has averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.0 blocks in the five games since returning from a five-week absence. “It’s kind of a chance to really get going, keep this streak going. We can’t overlook anybody, especially not these teams.”
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford made an appearance in practice for the first time in weeks. Crawford has been out since injuring his calf in Minnesota on March 2, and he does not have a clear timetable to come back. Head coach Doc Rivers said that he “wouldn’t read that much into it,” but he is encouraged by Crawford’s being in uniform instead of the trainer’s room.
“It is good to see him out there,” Rivers said. “I’d rather see him out there, but it’s a first step.”
With Crawford out, J.J. Redick has really stepped up. Besides breaking Crawford’s record for most threes in a season, Redick has scored more than 20 points in every game during the Clippers’ current win streak, marking the first time in Redick’s nine-year career that he scored 20+ points in four consecutive games. In the ten games that Crawford has been out, Redick is averaging 22.3 points per game.
“I think our guys are getting better at playing with J.J.,” Rivers said. “J.J. is constant movement, and so when you’re on the floor with him, you have to have that same mentality – ‘Here’s come J.J., I have to get ready to set the pick.’ Last year, there were so many missed picks with him, because guys didn’t realize that he was still coming. And now, they search him out. When J.J. is on the floor, I think the four other guys know exactly where he’s at and how to get him open.”
While Redick and Griffin had very good weeks for the Clippers, Chris Paul was named the Western Conference Player of the Week. It’s the 11th time Paul has won the award, and the third time as a member of the Clippers. The last time Paul won the award was on December 24, 2012, when the Clippers were in the midst of a franchise-record 17-game winning streak.
“I’m actually surprised anyone noticed,” Rivers said of Paul’s performance. “He’s been doing this for about a month now … It’s good for him. I think, I don’t care how good you are, it’s still good to be recognized.”
Paul didn’t have as much to say about his latest accolade.
“Cool. I think it’s happened before, so I’m honored. Privileged,” said Paul, who averaged 26.0 points, 11.3 assists, and 2.0 steals per game during the 4-0 week for the Clippers.
Paul didn’t want to overlook the teams on the schedule this week, despite their sub-.500 records and roster changes since the last time the Clippers saw them.
“All of those guys are paid professionals, just like us,” Paul said of the Knicks, 76ers, and Celtics. “They go out to compete every night, and they’ve been playing really well. Especially Philly. And Boston.”
The Clippers next home game is on March 31, a nationally televised matchup with the Warriors. But Rivers dismissed thoughts of the Warriors creeping up on the schedule.
“I don’t think our guys are giving two thoughts about Golden State,” Rivers said. “I think we’re more concerned about us.”