New-look Clippers ready for opener

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- The new-look Los Angeles Clippers aren't as ready as they'd like to be for Sunday's Christmas Day tilt against the Golden State Warriors, their 2011-2012 shortened season opener.

But they say they're as prepared as possible considering the circumstances.

"We're just as ready as we could be," superstar forward Blake Griffin said Saturday after the Clippers' final preseason practice. "I think we're ready to play.

"But we've had our guys for about a week now. So we obviously need more time."

Said point guard Chris Paul, acquired last week from New Orleans: "We have to be ready. Nobody cares whether you are or you're not. When they throw the ball up, you have to be."

The Clippers play the Warriors at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN, the fifth and final game in a holiday chock-full of NBA action. It's the second Christmas Day game in the last 19 years for the franchise.

Paul, beginning his seventh season in the league, has played in one previous game on the holiday, in 2008 with the Hornets.

He lost that game, 88-68. Saturday, he provided vivid details of the outcome and said the loss stuck with him. Getting the chance to play on the day again, he said, was big.

"I always looked at it as Christmas Day is the games that the fans want to see," Paul said.

Since the NBA lockout officially ended earlier this month, the Clippers added Paul and veterans Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler, inserting all three into their starting lineup alongside Griffin and newly-extended center DeAndre Jordan.

Paul maintained it would take him some time to feel as comfortable with his new teammates as he did toward the end of the six-year stretch he spent with the Hornets.

"It's definitely a lot different," Paul said. "But the only way to understand how new things are going to work is to go through them. I don't have the answers. I can't tell you what tomorrow's gonna be like. I have no clue. But I'm ready to see so I can stop the speculation."

NBA training camps opened Dec. 10, the day the Clippers inked Butler. But Paul and Billups didn't begin practicing with the team for another week, which is where a lot of the uncertainty comes from. They've played two preseason games and had a few practices, but that's it.

Of course, the new trio has played a collective 29 seasons in the league.

"It does make it easier having the kind of guys we have with (Paul) and Chauncey and Caron," Griffin said. "That definitely puts us ahead of where we'd be if we had, say, a bunch of rookies like last year."

Pedro Moura is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com.