Clippers News: Paul Pierce to start at PF vs. Wizards


Instead of Josh Smith, the Los Angeles Clippers will start Paul Pierce at power forward on Monday night against the Washington Wizards.

Well, this isn’t news that all Los Angeles Clippers fans will be pleased to hear. Now that Blake Griffin is out for at least two weeks with a partially torn quadricep tendon, the team needs to look elsewhere for their starting power forward. So, as they take on the Washington Wizards on Monday night, Doc Rivers has strangely opted for Paul Pierce (per Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times):

In the Clippers’ last game against the Utah Jazz, they elected to start combo-forward Josh Smith in the place of Griffin. While his shot selection with too many long twos and awareness can sometimes hurt the team, he’s at least been far better defensively than Pierce. Besides his ability to guard multiple positions with far greater athleticism and length, he’s also averaged a highly respectable 10 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes.

How about Pierce? He’s been a total liability on defense. He’s far too slow on the perimeter to keep up with quicker small forwards and guards, and he lacks the explosiveness to rebound and protect the rim, and general ability to defend the paint as an old, undersized power forward. In the Clippers’ second unit small-ball lineup, he’s been far from effective at the four.

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It wasn’t until Pierce hit a season-high 20 points with five threes against the Jazz that he actually made a significant difference of the bench. By the looks of things, that anomaly of a game may have changed Doc Rivers’ mind to start him over Smith. While his last outing was nice, Pierce is still shooting a mere 28.6 percent from three and just 32.6 percent from the floor overall. If he can hit shots like that, he can space the floor very well for DeAndre Jordan to attack the offensive glass, but that’s a major “if”.

In short, the Clippers have trailed by an average of 9.2 points per 100 possessions whenever Pierce is in the game. When he’s on the bench, though, they lead by 6.7. That kind of negative impact can’t be ignored.

Even though Jordan will at least be next to Pierce to help him in the starting lineup, Pierce is a downgrade from both Smith and, obviously, Griffin. If Doc is going to insist on using Pierce, at least the Clippers’ defense is somewhat balanced out while Jordan is at center with him.

However, it would make more sense to use Smith more at the four and increase the minutes of guys like Lance Stephenson and Wesley Johnson at small forward instead of Pierce. Overall, they have been more consistent and have more to offer at both ends of the floor.

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Yet, as has been the case pretty much all season long, Doc’s rotations are puzzling and random. Hopefully for the Clippers, their shooters can stay hot enough on Monday to make up for the loss of Griffin.