Barnes, who has missed the last 16 games after suffering a retinal tear in his left eye against the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 18, will wear protective goggles. He was seen wearing tinted goggles and shooting around before practice.
“Yeah, he will. He’ll play,” Rivers said at practice Friday. “He’ll be back the next two games.”
Barnes was cleared by the Clippers medical staff to play Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans and dressed for the game, but Rivers didn’t want him to play without practicing first and adjusting to his goggles.
“I told Matt to dress, but I had no plans of playing him unless [I needed to],” Rivers said. “I told him, ‘Listen you just never know.’ I’ll throw him in. I have no fear of that. But I didn’t want to. Now that he worked out yesterday -- we brought in four guys to run him through stuff -- and then he gets a real practice today. So that’ll be good.”
As for what to expect from Barnes, Rivers believes his reacclimation into the lineup will improve the Clippers’ spacing offensively and ability to play with smaller lineups defensively.
“I think it’ll be good,” Rivers said. “First of all, I think Matt is our best cutter. So that will give us some of that. I think right now, when I go semi-small, I can go with Antawn [Jamison] and Stephen [Jackson]. And Stephen and Matt together defensively can be really good.”
Barnes has appeared in eight games this season and is averaging 5.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 20 minutes per game. The Clippers were 11-5 in his absence.