Austin Rivers was terrific in college, but he has not done much in the NBA until late. With the Spurs looking to lock down the series with the Clippers with a 3-1 lead, Rivers played some of the best basketball he’s played in his life. He was great on both the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side – something that is often lacking in the NBA – and the Clippers came away with a win. The series is now tied 2-2, and the Clippers have a chance to move on. The Spurs are one of the best teams in the NBA, as they have been for years, so this is a big moment for the Clippers.
It’s clear to fans like Flavio Maluf (linkedin.com) that Rivers is never going to be an elite basketball player. Some thought he could be coming out of college, but he just hasn’t taken that next step. Even as good as he was last night, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s not the next LeBron James.
However, the NBA is full of good players who may not be superstars, but who still help their teams to win night in and night out. In many cases, it’s the way that these players step up in big moments that matters. Everyone knows that the stars are going to be good. When the other players step up, as Rivers did against the Spurs, it changes the game.