Doc Rivers went beyond the wreckage of the LA Clippers’ Game 6 crash and saw some telltale signs.
By hitting two big leads in their last two losses to allow the Denver Nuggets to incredibly force a Game 7, the Clippers stopped playing with the pace and purpose that helped them build 16 and 19 point leads in Games 5 and 6.
And in Game 6, Rivers saw the breakthrough in the third quarter after Jamal Murray went down hard without fail and Paul George struck a 3 that got the Clippers 68-49 with 10:10 left in the quarter.
“There’s no secret like a potion that something has happened,” Rivers said Monday of the Clippers’ two missed leads in a row. “The two things we didn̵
“I think from the moment Murray crashed with that injury,” added Rivers of the Nuggets who fired 12 of the 16 free throws in the third after the Clippers were ahead by 19. “I think it’s human nature. Falling boy, there’s no call at stake, and then the next thing you know you’re on the free throw line. And give Denver credit because they got it and started being aggressive. “
Overall, both teams made the same number of free throws (27) in Game 6, but Rivers points out that the Nuggets’ aggression paid off in the second half when Denver went online 19 times against 11 Clippers in the second half.
As the Clippers enter their biggest game of the season looking to advance to their first Western Conference final, Rivers says it’s imperative that George and his guards stay out of trouble.
George has committed no fewer than four fouls in the previous three games with five fouls each in games 4 and 5. Patrick Beverley was also fouled in 18 minutes in Game 6, putting Rivers’ defensive rotation to the test.
“PG can’t get in trouble,” Rivers said that he needs his star guard in Game 7. “I think he’s been in trouble in at least two, maybe three games, and sometimes he’s not even protecting one of your key guys. just keep it on the floor.
“The bad troubles of our guards have been very painful in this series, and not just in the last two games. We have to keep our guards on the ground, because if we don’t, we have to go to defensive formations that are not desirable.”
While the resilient Nuggets have the momentum and will play for the fourth consecutive time in Game 7 last season, the Clippers will rely primarily on Rivers and Kawhi Leonard’s Race 7 experience.
Rivers is no stranger to Game 7s. He is 6-7 in Race 7 of all time with his second only to eight wins at Red Auerbach, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“Rah-rah’s speeches are very overrated,” Rivers said of what he will tell his team before Game 7. “They last about three minutes … there’s no secret speech like this. This is for the movies.” .
“There is nothing secret or magical,” added Rivers. “It’s about playing basketball, equipping, moving the ball, doing all the things we can do.”
And the Clippers will lean on Leonard, the reigning Finals MVP who is 2-2 in Game 7.
“We just have to leave everything on the ground and make sure we pay attention to the details and perform and communicate on the defensive side,” Leonard said Sunday of his message to his team about playing in Game 7. “And that’s all we can do, go out there and play hard and just make sure we know the game plan. “
Leonard knocked out Philadelphia last year with his memorable buzzer corner shot in Game 7 of the East Semifinals for the Toronto Raptors.
“He’s adamant,” Rivers said of Leonard. “Kawhi, you can’t guarantee he will play well or not because he’s human and all players are.
“But you know, the moment won’t be too big. That’s the only thing I like about him, you just know. So it’s comforting to know.”