Clippers miss Patrick Beverley’s pluck, playmaking

first_imgThe Clippers return to Boston on Thursday, the scene of last season’s spirited, tone-setting 28-point comeback, a victory that set a revamped roster on a path to the playoffs.This week’s visit (5 p.m., TNT, Fox Sports Prime Ticket) marks the last game before an All-Star-break breather for both 37-win teams.It’s also the fourth and final game of the trip for a Clippers unit that is experiencing heightened expectations and still struggling sometimes to find solid footing – especially when Patrick Beverley, their playmaking professional pest, isn’t available.The Clippers used their 26th starting lineup in Tuesday’s 110-103 loss in Philadelphia, where they mixed in new addition Marcus Morris (who felt the sting of that resounding comeback in Boston last season as a member of the Celtics) and inserted veteran sixth man Lou Williams in place of Beverley, who Thursday will miss his fourth consecutive game and seventh since Jan. 21 because of a sore right groin. Sans Beverley – who has been invited to compete in the Skills Challenge during All-Star festivities Saturday in his native Chicago – the Clippers also miss a facilitator with an ever-tighter handle on Rivers’ desired offense.On Tuesday, the Clippers were frustrated by the 76ers’ elite defense, which held George to 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting and limited Williams to 13 on a 5-for-15 effort.Related Articles Clippers’ Paul George: ‘If I make shots, this series could be a little different’ Game 4 photos: Luka Doncic, Mavs shock Clippers in overtime Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img His presence might not have altered the outcome in Philadelphia, but it almost certainly would have affected the tenor of the game, after which Coach Doc Rivers told reporters that the 76ers “played harder, they were more physical – they were so much more the physical team.”Rivers offered no such critique after the Celtics and Clippers met for the first time this season on Nov. 20, when both teams went toe-to-toe into overtime. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 42 points that night in their successful joint debut and the 6-foot-1 Beverley hauled in a career-high 16 rebounds and hit the 3-point dagger in OT.Before his game-sealing shot, another Beverley 3-pointer out of a timeout sparked an 8-0 run that wiped out almost all of Boston’s 10-point lead.“He came out of that timeout like he was possessed. He changed the game, single-handedly,” Rivers said a few days after that victory. “He never thinks you’re gonna lose. He’s such an intangible player, there’s no way you can use analytics or any equation to figure out the worth of Pat Beverley on your basketball team. It’s actually impossible.”Even if there’s no quantifying his contributions, there is this: The Clippers are 30-10 when Beverley plays, and 7-7 without him. (In four of those losses, the Clippers also were without Leonard, without whom the Clippers are 6-7.) For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory “Our movement could have been better,” George told media members in Philadelphia. “They were pretty much forcing us to play one-on-one isolation ball. If we would have moved the ball and kept it hopping, we could’ve been more successful.”“We made it too hard for ourselves,” Rivers said. “There was an easier offense to run, and it was out there for us to run, we just didn’t do it tonight.”CLIPPERS vs. CELTICSWhen: Thursday, 5 p.m.Where: TD Garden, BostonTV: TNT, Fox Sports Prime Ticket What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 last_img read more