Clippers coach Doc Rivers leaves door open for starting Paul Pierce in Game 6 against Jazz
The Clippers have four sure-fire starters: Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan.
The fifth spot is up for grabs with Blake Griffin’s season-ending injury.
Marreese Speights started Games 4 and 5 against the Jazz. Paul Pierce started the second half of Game 5.
There are no good options here.
Pierce, 39, has looked washed up most of his time in L.A. That the Clippers have outscored Utah by nine points in his 58 minutes seems like a product of small sample size.
Speights starting leaves the Clippers vulnerable at center when Jordan sits, and rather than staggering, maybe they ought to just start differently.
Rivers wants to ease the ball-handling burden on Paul, but one choice to do that – Raymond Felton – would be a defensive liability. Another possibility – Jamal Crawford – would present the same defensive issues and sabotage second-unit scoring.
Austin Rivers could bridge the gap, but he’s just returning from his own injury.
Doc Rivers clearly doesn’t trust Wesley Johnson, and the forward’s Game 5 gaffes won’t change that.
The Clippers’ central problem: They have only one player – Luc Mbah a Moute – who can guard Gordon Hayward and Joe Johnson. When those Jazz forwards share the court, especially in crunch time, the Clippers face one massive mismatch.
Is relying on Pierce a good option? No way. But it also might be the Clippers’ best option.