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Doc Rivers says Clippers focus is defense, not offensive rebounding

DeAndre Jordan Doc Rivers
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Despite having a pair of incredible rebounders in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the L.A. Clippers were ranked 29th in the NBA with just 8.8 offensive rebounds per game last year ahead of only Atlanta.

The Clippers started their season off against a couple of solid rebounding teams in the Blazers and Jazz. Playing against the likes of Mason Plumlee, Rudy Gobert, and Derrick Favors early on is never easy, but it does force L.A. to come out ready right away.

In their season opener in Portland on Thursday, the Clippers grabbed a whopping 15 offensive rebounds. The Olympic Gold Medalist in Jordan had seven, Griffin added five, and recent offseason addition Marreese Speights grabbed two. L.A. then played the Jazz on Sunday, where they grabbed another 14 offensive rebounds led by Jordan’s six.

With the Clippers crashing the glass so hard and coming up successful on Thursday, it brings up an interesting question: should the Clippers focus more or less on crashing the offensive glass? During Saturday’s practice, head coach Doc Rivers said the Clippers value offensive rebounding, but that defense and defensive rebounding are their priorities.

“We’ve always talked about it (offensive rebounding),” said Rivers. “We really have. What we always have said is that if you’re in the paint, go after the offensive rebound. When you’re out of the paint, get back.

“In my opinion where teams make mistakes is they have guys crashing from the corners, and if they don’t get it, its a fast break the other way. The offensive rebounding is something we talk about every year, but defensive rebounding is what we have to be great at.”

For his career, Jordan averages 3.1 offensive rebounds per game, and he says he’ll continue to crash to create more opportunities for his team.

“I try to do it all the time. Anytime I can get us an extra possession or create a foul for our team, it’s going to help us out in the long run. If we can ever get any opportunity to get a second chance point, then yeah.”

L.A. has had one of the better defenses in the NBA over the past couple of years, thanks in large part to the development of their defensive anchor in Jordan. However, having Jordan and Griffin hasn’t really helped put their offensive rebounding numbers at the top. In the 2014-15 season, L.A. ranked 28th in offensive rebounding and in 2015-16, they ranked 29th. It’s still early, but this year might be a different story as Jordan and the Clippers have gotten off to a tremendous start. He’s now pulled in a combined 13 offensive rebounds and the team has 29 offensive rebounds through the first two games of the season.

Coach Rivers doesn’t really care for the offensive rebounding numbers although he encourages his guys to crash the glass. That is, as long as their defense isn’t affected.

“That is not a focus. I want to be a better offensive rebounding team, don’t get me wrong. I’d rather not give up points the other way.

“Blake, DJ, Mo, or even Austin or CP. Doesn’t matter, if they’re under the basket, we want you to go after it. If you don’t get it, you gotta get back.”

So far, the increase in offensive rebounding against a couple of solid rebounding teams has resulted in wins for the team. It’ll surely be interesting to see if L.A. can continue to rebound like this as the season goes on. If it keeps resulting in wins, will Rivers change his mind to consider making offensive rebounding a focus?

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