LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers are just one game into the season and they already have trust issues.
Well, defensive trust issues, anyway.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers knew it would take time for his team to grasp and trust his defensive principles and trust that everyone on the court would adhere to those principles and their responsibilities. He wasn’t about to change anything after the Clippers’ season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. If anything, he spent the day after the loss drilling those principles harder.
“The processes hasn’t changed, we haven’t changed what we’re going to do, we’re going to keeping working on it until we trust it,” Rivers said. “It just takes time. It's over and over and over again until it's actual trust. I thought last night when things got tough, we actually went back to just kind of making it up and doing our own thing. There's no good defensive team, or offensive team for that matter, that does it randomly. You’re not good by mistake.”
After the game, Rivers mentioned that Blake Griffin had to get better on defense, and Griffin did not disagree when he was asked about the Clippers’ opening night loss the next day.
“The big thing is help defense, that’s a huge thing with this defense and that’s a good thing,” Griffin said. “We just have to have trust, where we completely trust each other and we completely trust that we’re going to be there for each other.”
Griffin once again brought up the word “trust” when asked for a couple of areas the Clippers needed to work on going into their home opener against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.
“Trust and communication,” Griffin said. “As long as we get back and we communicate we can make up for a lot of mistakes by communicating and playing aggressively. Those are things we can do immediately.”
Some of the trust issues stemmed from several Clippers missing parts of training camp and the preseason, such as J.J. Redick and Matt Barnes, who will play key roles on the first and second units this season.
“Matt and I missed most of the preseason so that probably didn’t help in terms of trusting each other,” Redick said. “We have a long way to go.”
Rivers warned his team about the intensity it would need to have in the first game, and never felt like the Clippers quite rose to the challenge, even when they led in the third quarter.
“I felt ambushed all game,” Rivers said. “I didn’t feel good about the first half and we were up. The game just didn’t look right to me, throughout the game. I just didn’t feel good about it.”
Rivers, however, wasn’t about to scrap his plan and start from scratch after one loss, one game into an 82-game season.
“I’m not going to overreact to one night,” Rivers said. “If you’re looking for that type of coach, you’re looking for the wrong coach. In five games, if we’re still struggling we may have to do something; I just don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”