“I pretty much doubt it, to be honest, just from talking to him,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said when asked about Paul playing. “We’ll see. Right now, I just don’t think so… I doubt if he plays.”
Paul didn’t play in Game 1, which worked out fine for the Clippers in their 117-101 victory over the Rockets. That win likely afforded the Clippers the luxury of resting Paul for another game, as they’ve already stolen one game away from the Staples Center. Paul himself recognizes it’s a smart move, but it doesn’t make it any easier for him to sit on the sidelines.
“I told them if I were to miss tonight I’d probably have to take some anxiety pills,” Paul said. “It’s a lot more nerve-wracking being on the bench than it is in the game. We’re such a team and guys really showed a lot of resolve. This is probably a reason why I’ll never coach, not at this level. Maybe my AAU kids but not this, this is too stressful.”
Paul should be able to rest easy knowing that there will be someone out on the court to take up his playmaking slack. No, it’s not Austin Rivers, it’s Blake Griffin. For all of Griffin’s athletic exploits, he’s perhaps most gifted as a passer. He’s recorded at least 7 assists in four of his past five games, including 10 in Game 7 against the Spurs and 13 in Game 1 against the Rockets. He may not have Paul’s creativity, and certainly can’t run the pick-and-roll like CP3, but the Clippers’ ball movement won’t come to a complete standstill while Paul rests.
Obviously, the Clippers want to be up 2-0 in the series, but going back home tied at 1-1 is almost as good. Now, they’ll get Paul back healthier – or at least more rested – than he would have been if they had needed him to play tonight.