October 12, 2017
LOS ANGELES — Milos Teodosic made his third consecutive start in place of injured guard Austin Rivers when the Clippers played host to the Sacramento Kings on Thursday at Staples Center. Teodosic went into the fourth of the Clippers’ five exhibition games shooting a less-than-stellar 30 percent (6 for 20), however.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he wasn’t worried. Rivers believes Teodosic’s shooting touch will return sooner than later.
“I just want him to stay aggressive,” Rivers said. “Milos is not a good shooter. He’s a great shooter, but he’s struggling right now making shots, more from timing and all that. We know he can pass. He’s one of the best passers I may have ever seen. I want him to shoot, just shoot the ball.
“His passing will always be there. I want him to get some shooting rhythm.”
The Clippers have a great deal invested in Teodosic, and it goes beyond the two-year, $12.3 million contract they signed him to during the offseason. They applied a full-court press in order to lure the 30-year-old Serb to the NBA (finally!) after so many standout seasons in Russia and Greece.
Patrick Beverley, a teammate in Europe, was among the leading recruiters after the Clippers acquired Beverley in the multi-player Chris Paul trade with the Houston Rockets in the offseason. Beverley knew first-hand how dynamic Teodosic could be with the ball in his hands.
YouTube is filled with videos of Teodosic’s behind-the-back and no-look passes.
It wasn’t too much to expect Teodosic to be Paul’s replacement as the Clippers’ starting point guard this season, although Beverley and Austin Rivers also were considered leading candidates heading into the opening of training camp earlier this month.
Austin Rivers’ strained right glute and slow recovery from a summer bout with mononucleosis could jeopardize his availability for the Clippers’ regular-season opener next Thursday. Beverley (sore right knee) also sat out Thursday, but he’s expected to be sound enough to start the season.
Doc Rivers said earlier in the preseason that he expected to play all three extensively, plus shooting guard Lou Williams. Doc Rivers said he could mix and match guards as he saw fit, adapting to game situations and the strengths and weaknesses of opponents.
Teodosic and Beverley figure to be a natural pairing in the backcourt because of their history.
“It’s always nice when you’re playing with a guy you know and you’ve played with before,” Doc Rivers said. “Now, I’m sure it (their chemistry) does manifest itself on the floor. I don’t really notice it because we’re probably doing different things than they did. It’s easier to trust a guy when you already have a relationship with a guy, and I think that helps.”
In addition to Beverley and Austin Rivers, guard Sindarius Thornwell (shoulder) and forwards Sam Dekker (oblique), Danilo Gallinari (foot) and Jamil Wilson (back) sat out Thursday. Doc Rivers said he expected all but Beverley and Thornwell to be back on the practice court next week.
“It sounds like we’re going to have a full deck,” Doc Rivers said. “I’ve never really encountered this many (injuries). The problem is now you want to rest some guys who have been playing in preseason games. So, we’ve got to make sure we have enough guys (Friday against the Lakers).
“That was the intention when we scheduled the back-to-back games. Some guys would play one game and not the next. So, (Friday) will be interesting to see who we do play. We may call up guys for the first in the history of the game for a preseason game.”