Home Sports Playoffs? Clippers coach Tyronn Lue nonetheless experimenting with rotations

Playoffs? Clippers coach Tyronn Lue nonetheless experimenting with rotations

Requested whether or not he had begun to look forward at playoff matchups, or most popular sure first-round opponents, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was nonetheless laughing whereas answering Tuesday after a win over Portland.

“I’d wish to make the playoffs first, how about that?” the coach stated. “Let’s get in first after which we’ll fear about the remainder of the enterprise later.”

The Clippers can be a playoff crew. Since their midseason swoon getting into March’s All-Star break, they’ve gained 10 of 14 video games behind the league’s second-best level differential and stand third within the Western Conference standings.

Their remaining schedule is the league’s weakest, based on Tankathon, a web site that tracks energy of schedule. A 20-game push begins Thursday with a “conflict” in opposition to Phoenix — as Clippers star Paul George described the matchup in opposition to the West’s second-ranked crew — with a roster that’s as wholesome because it has been since early March. After Patrick Beverley returned in opposition to Portland for his first sport since March 11, the one Clipper nonetheless sidelined is middle Serge Ibaka.

Merely reaching the postseason isn’t why the Clippers despatched a half-decade price of draft picks to Oklahoma Metropolis in 2019 to amass Paul George, a transfer that led to the signing of Kawhi Leonard, neither is it why they dealt guard Lou Williams, the crew’s “soul,” as president Lawrence Frank stated final month, for level guard Rajon Rondo on the commerce deadline.

A championship window that solely is assured to stay open by way of this summer season, with Leonard set to develop into an unrestricted free agent in August, is why Lue can be utilizing the closing six weeks with one eye on potential rotations — notably inside a five-guard backcourt going through a shortage of alternatives as soon as Rondo, coming off an adductor harm, and Beverley are now not encumbered by a minutes restrict.

“We have now a plan and simply attempting to see what it seems to be like,” Lue stated, “and if it doesn’t work then we bought 20 video games to regulate and make it proper.”

That plan started to present itself with lineups utilized in Tuesday’s 133-116 win in opposition to the Path Blazers.

Terance Mann, the 6-foot-7 second-year wing who had averaged 13.9 factors, 6.6 rebounds whereas taking pictures 52% in additional than 24 minutes in his final 9 video games, performed 10 minutes, his fewest since Feb. 3. Luke Kennard, averaging 20 minutes and 11.1 factors on 52% taking pictures over his final eight video games, performed simply three minutes.

Their alternatives can be decided “game-to-game” going ahead as the crew prioritizes getting veterans, and certain playoff constants, Rondo and Beverley in control.

“Luke and T-Mann simply should be prepared, we already talked about that, had that communication” with them, Lue stated. “It may be spot minutes. It may be no minutes. These guys have actually earned the chance to play and have finished a fantastic job within the sport.

“However proper now, we bought another guys we bought to see the place the rotation goes to be and what it seems to be like.”

As a protracted, defensively versatile wing who doesn’t have to dominate the ball to attain, Mann is probably the most malleable of the guards, and will present boosts of wanted vitality even in shorter doses.

How Lue chooses to dole future minutes between Kennard and Reggie Jackson, who averaged 11.8 factors, 2.8 assists, 1.4 turnovers with 43% taking pictures throughout 12 begins in Beverley’s absence, might be harder as soon as Rondo and Beverley are wholesome sufficient to play extra typically.

Each might be facilitators however even have thrived as off-ball launch valves when the offense breaks down. Every is , with every taking pictures higher than 44% on catch-and-shoot three-pointers. Neither is a lockdown defender, which could be extra of what Lue seeks within the playoffs given the crew’s surplus of offense.

As a result of the rotations labored in opposition to Portland, Lue stated he’ll stick to that blueprint shifting ahead for now. Within the brief time period, that seemingly means a bigger position for Jackson, who scored 23 minutes in 26 minutes and was distinctive because the Clippers held off Portland’s second-half rally.

UP NEXT

VS. PHOENIX

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

On the air: TV: TNT; Radio: 570, 1330.

Replace: In one of many harder back-to-backs within the Western Convention this season, the Suns play West-leading Utah on Wednesday earlier than going through the Clippers a evening later. Because the begin of February, Phoenix is a league-leading 25-6 whereas dishing a league-high 27.9 assists per sport.

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