PLAYA VISTA, Calif. — More often than not, winning in sports is directly correlated to the roster’s health. Some teams start healthy, but most finish with nagging injuries limiting players one way or another.
Such is the case with the Clippers roster; one that has dealt with countless injuries to key players like Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick. While the team continues to be cautious with Redick’s lower back injury, there is plenty of good news with Crawford back in the lineup.
The Clips’ sixth man returned Saturday against the Detroit Pistons after missing eight of his last nine games due to a strained left calf, scoring nine points on 4-of-13 from the field in 32 minutes of action.
“I think a day of rest was good, I feel good today,” Crawford said following the team shootaround on Monday. “Not just the calf, but the wind and legs and rhythm. The last game I played before was on February 26, close to a month from now. So it’s fun to get out there.
“I will though later on just to keep it warm,” Crawford said about wearing a calf-sleeve. “This was just a walk-through so I didn’t do it. I wanted to see how it would feel, but I’ll definitely wear it later on.”
The Clippers own the second-best home record in the league at 30-5. With just 12 regular season games remaining, the team’s focus is to maintain what they have built over the past six months.
“Game plan is in place, we just have to go out there and execute it and be as consistent as possible doing it,” Crawford said. “We know what we have to do, it’s just about doing it every night.”
Potentially the No. 1 factor in the team’s consistent play has been center DeAndre Jordan’s mission to be the defensive player coach Doc Rivers expected him to be at season’s start. Led by Jordan, the Clippers are No. 6 in the league in defensive efficiency according to NBA.com.
“He’s defensive player of the year,” Crawford said when asked how Jordan has helped him this year. “Sometimes we’ll get beat and we’ll look up and he’s there. I mean, it’s not a good thing to have, but I guess it is a good thing to have in retrospective him being back there because he’s adjusting shots if he’s not blocking them. I think his impact on defense has been just as good or better than anyone else’s in the league.”
Following Monday night’s home game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Clippers hit the road for nine days for the season’s last major road trip.
“We always like to go over .500, but why not be greedy and try to get them all,” Crawford said about the upcoming road trip.
The Clippers kick off their journey in New Orleans Wednesday night when they play the Pelicans.
Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports