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Austin Rivers (hamstring) won’t be ready for Game 1 of first round, targeting return for Game 3 or 4 vs. Jazz

LOS ANGELES – The L.A. Clippers are trying to close their regular season out the right way as they take on the Sacramento Kings in their regular season finale. If they win this game, they’ll have home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Utah Jazz. It’ll be an important game to win, especially since they’ll be without their backup scoring guard for a portion of the series.

Austin Rivers suffered a strained hamstring against the Washington Wizards back on March 29th, and was ruled out for the remainder of the regular season shortly after that. Ahead of Wednesday night’s season finale against the Kings, Rivers said his hamstring is feeling better, but he added that he wouldn’t be making his return in Game 1 of the first round starting this weekend. Instead, Rivers opened up about his target date.

“Game 3, 4-ish? 5-ish?” said Rivers. “Hopefully [Game] 3, I’m trying to get back as soon as possible, but they’re saying not yet.”

It’s been exactly two weeks since Rivers strained his left hamstring, and thus far, he hasn’t done much on the court except for standstill shooting. In fact, his next big step towards returning will be taken this weekend.

“I haven’t done anything yet,” added Rivers. “I start Saturday, that’s when I really getting on the court heavy. I’ve been doing treadmill, underwater treadmill, stuff like that. A lot of free throw shooting, spot shooting, things like that, but I get to really get into it this weekend going into the Game 1 and Game 2, feel it out.”

The NBA hasn’t announced the playoff schedule starting, but Game 1 against the Jazz will be either Saturday or Sunday, with Game 2 a couple days later. In total, Rivers will have about another week from tonight to get some practice time in and see if he’s ready to play in Game 3.

“I’ll know by the way my body feels and just go from there.”

The fifth-year guard has averaged 12 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.8 assists on 44.2% shooting from the field and 37.1% from beyond the arc, all of which are career-highs. in four games against the Jazz this season, Rivers has averaged 15 points 1.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on 56.8% shooting.

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