LOS ANGELES — Either Doc Rivers is playing possum with the Warriors, the rival he loves to antagonize, or the Clippers will be severely shorthanded tonight against a team that has won 12 straight games to start the NBA season.
All-Star point guard Chris Paul (strained right groin) and shooter J.J. Redick (back spasms) were listed as doubtful Wednesday for the game at Staples Center.
Both Paul and Redick have missed the team’s past two games because of injuries, though Paul said before Tuesday’s practice that his strain is “definitely getting better” and that he wants to play against the Warriors, “no question.” Unless Rivers is dabbling in gamemanship, as he sometimes does, the only “question” will be how the Clippers intend on stopping a speed train that is eyeing a league-best-ever 16-0 start.
The Clippers have lost four of their past six games, including a 112-108 loss to the Warriors on Nov. 4 at Oracle Arena. Like LeBron James and others who want what the league champions have, they are amazed at what Stephen Curry and the Warriors already have accomplished this season.
“You have to respect what they’re doing, and the way they’ve gone about it,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. “The best way I can describe it is clutter-free basketball. They don’t have any hang-ups. That’s the way it has to be done.”
Griffin went on to explain that clutter-free basketball meant the Warriors were not letting any off-the-court issues or focus on personal statistics influence their play.
Draymond Green actually dropped the respect word himself Wednesday. “There’s definitely more respect than people think, but it’s also no secret we don’t like them and they don’t like us,” the opinionated Warrior said. “That has nothing to do with respect. We respect them, and I think they respect us. But it’s OK to not like each other. That’s a part of the game that makes it fun.”
Veteran Clippers forward Paul Pierce said what makes Curry unique — and so unstoppable — is his ability to create his own shot, especially from beyond the three-point line, where he averages 11.3 attempts a game and converts 45.6 percent of them.
“You look at the top three-point shooters in NBA history, a lot of them are guys that came off a lot of screens, a lot of guys that just spot up and get open,” Pierce said. “But he seems to get it off anytime he wants.”
The teams’ previous game this season came down to the final minute. Pierce said this will be a completely different challenge because of the Warriors’ lengthy winning streak. “They’re 12-0, now, you just feel like nobody can play with you guys,” Pierce said. “You feel like nobody can beat you, you feel like any team that takes a lead on you, you can always come back. You have the ultimate confidence. You’re the champion. It’s just like probably any fighter, when he gets hit and goes down, he probably still feels like, ‘I’m still going to win this fight.’ That’s just their feeling and they’ve earned it.”
Griffin said Curry, who is in a league of his own in the NBA, reminds him of a player he used to go against in high school in Oklahoma.
“With no disrespect to Steph, there was this kid in Oklahoma named Rotnei Clarke,” Griffin said. “In high school, he’d average like 47. It was like the same type of thing obviously on a much different scale, like he didn’t have [Paul] and guys guarding him. But it was crazy. He would shoot like left-handed, like it was insane. Not comparing by any means.”
Curry is considered by some to be the greatest player in basketball right now. It seems as though Curry can shoot effectively from anywhere beyond the half-court line, and he leads the league in scoring with 33.7 points a game.
Griffin said that Clarke, though very skilled in high school, had a very different future than the league’s reigning MVP.
“He went to Arkansas and then transferred somewhere,” Griffin said. “I think he transferred somewhere and just kind of fizzled out. Keiton Page was a kid that was at Oklahoma State, he was the same way in high school. Again, he’s playing in Oklahoma 2A high school, but like he would cross half court and you’d have to guard him. It was crazy. Obviously, [Curry] is doing this on an NBA level against every team night in and night out.”
Clarke spent three seasons with Arkansas before transferring to Butler. He currently is a member of Telekom Baskets Bonn of Basketball Bundesliga in Germany. As for Page, after his college career he apparently transitioned to coaching children.
Curry is gunning for his second straight Most Valuable Player award … and more.
Tribune News Service contributed to this report.