Los Angeles Clippers eliminated reigning champions San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs last season, but bowed out to the Houston Rockets in the second round playoffs.
Whether the Clippers will be able to surmount the barrier of the Conference semifinals this season for the first time in franchise history remains to be seen, but currently head coach Doc Rivers is pondering over the options to select the fifth starter.
Thursday night, the team played a preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center. Doc Rivers started with Lance Stephenson as the fifth man in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game.
“It’s not about the starting unit, really,” Rivers said. “It’s about the team.”
Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson are two other options in that slot. Each of the three has his own advantages. Pierce is known for his lethal clutch shooting; he made 4 three-pointers against Portland on Thursday. Johnson is a specialist three-point shooter. Stephenson’s athleticism was displayedl and he can pair well with Chris Paul.
“As long as it’s quick decisions and not the dancing,” Rivers said. “He’s gotten away from that. He’s gotten better.”
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick are the four men certain to start for the Clippers in the regular season. The Clippers need to finalize their fifth starter ahead of the first regular season match-up against the Sacramento Kings.