And in Game 6, Rivers saw the game turn in the third quarter after Jamal Murray was cleared down and Paul George hit a 3 that put the Clippers ahead 68-49 with 10:10 left in the game. quarter.
“It’s no secret like a potion that something happened,” Rivers said Monday of the Clippers’ back-to-back runs. “The two things we didn’t do, clearly defensively, they shot almost 60% in the second half. The only thing that stood out, they went to the free throw line like every game. ”
“I think since the moment Murray fell with that injury,” Rivers added of the Nuggets shooting 12 of 16 free throws in the third after the Clippers led by 19. “I think that’s human nature . You see a guy drop, there is no appeal on the play then the next thing you know you are on the free throw line. And give Denver credit because they got it and started to be aggressive. ”
Overall, both teams shot the same number of free throws (27) in Game 6, but Rivers points out that the Nuggets’ assault paid off in the second half as Denver went to the line 19 times. against the 11 Clippers in the second half. .
As the Clippers enter their biggest game of the season trying to qualify for their first Western Conference final, Rivers says it’s imperative that George and his guards stay out of trouble.
George has committed no less than four faults in the previous three games with five faults each in Games 4 and 5. Patrick Beverley also fouled in 18 minutes in Game 6, straining Rivers’ defensive rotation.
“PG can’t be in big trouble,” Rivers said of his star guard’s need in Game 7. “I think he’s been struggling at least two, maybe three games, and sometimes he don’t even keep one of your key guys. We just have to keep it on the ground.
“The bad troubles of our guards, they were very hurtful in this series, and not just the last two games. We have to keep our guards on the ground, because if we don’t, we have to leave. to defensive queues that are not desirable. ”
While the resilient Nuggets have the momentum and will play in their fourth straight Game 7 since the last postseason, the Clippers will mainly rely on the Game 7 experience of Rivers and Kawhi Leonard.
Rivers is no stranger to Games 7. He is 6-7 in Game 7 of all time with his wins in second only to Red Auerbach’s eight, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“Rah-rah’s speeches are very overdone,” Rivers said of what he will say to his team before Game 7. “They are about three minutes long… there is no secret speech. It’s for the movies. ”
“There is nothing secret or magical,” Rivers added. “It’s about playing basketball, equipping, moving the ball, doing whatever we can do. “
And the Clippers will rely on Leonard, the reigning MVP of the Final who is 2-2 in all 7 games.
“I have to put everything aside and make sure that we pay attention to the details and execute and communicate on the defensive end,” Leonard said on Sunday of his message to his team about playing in Game 7. “And that’s all we can do, go play hard and be sure we know the game plan. ”
Leonard eliminated Philadelphia last year with his memorable corner shot in Game 7 of the Eastern Semifinals for the Toronto Raptors.
“He’s steadfast,” Rivers said of Leonard. “Kawhi, you can’t guarantee he’ll play well or not because he’s human and all players are.
“But you know, the timing won’t be too great.” It’s the only thing like with him, you just know that. So it’s heartwarming to know that. “