When Austin Rivers injured his thumb again on Jan. 3, doctors recommended that he take four to six weeks of rest so that he would fully recover. Except that the 29-year-old combo-guard – aware that his team was already weakened on the back lines – refused, preferring to play despite the pain.
Reduced, but not defeated, the Nuggets player therefore grits his teeth and, this night, he took the opportunity to sign his best game of the season, on the floor of the Thunder. Author of 22 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in 31 minutes, all at 6/9 at 3-pointers, the former leader / back of the Clippers finished leading scorer in this game, won on the wire by Denver.
” He was our best player in defense, but he was arguably our best player in attack as well. “, also delivered his coach, Michael Malone.
The most important thing about Austin Rivers’ performance is that he turned out to be decisive for his team in the “money-time”, when they had a complicated second period: only 38 points scored in total, to 38% on shots and 18% on 3-pointers. And that it was, above all, led 93-88 by Oklahoma City, four minutes from time.
” I love being on the floor, especially at the end of the game. This is my favorite thing because every possession counts », Confided on this subject the main interested party.
When Austin Rivers plays the savior
Three minutes from the end, Austin Rivers made his “clutch” side speak, first planting a big 3-point to equalize at 93-93, then achieving a difficult “layup”, despite the challenge of Mike Muscala, to put the Nuggets back in charge on the next possession.
And the 22 points of the 10th choice of the 2012 Draft were all the more crucial for Denver, given the (very relative) discretion of Nikola Jokic (22 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists, 8/21 on shots). The fault, in particular, with the incessant grips with two which had to face the “Joker”, in the hot moments.
” He’s up against the craziest defenses “, also estimated Austin Rivers, regarding the 2021 MVP, sometimes unable to get the ball, last night. ” Other than him, and maybe Joel Embiid, I don’t know who’s caught up like this. As soon as he hits the ball there is a bunch of players coming at him and he has to get the right play read every time. ”
Surgical behind the arc, mainly in the first half, to help the Nuggets take a more than ten point lead on the scoreboard, Doc Rivers’ son was able to take advantage of Nikola’s good play readings. Jokic. As on this 3-point three minutes from the end, which occurred following a delay of the Serbian.
” We have been able to see it lately, but our opponents constantly take it two by two “, Underlined Michael Malone, about his MVP, which creates all the same spaces for his teammates, thanks to the threat which he represents permanently. ” They force us to register our shots. ”
Without scoring a ton of points, Nikola Jokic therefore weighed on this meeting, while the elusive Austin Rivers perfectly relayed his “franchise player”. What will need to succeed all the players of Denver, in the coming weeks, to remain in the Top 6 of the West (20 wins – 18 losses).
|2014-15 *||All Teams||76||21||40.9||29.8||67.5||0.4||1.6||2.0||2.0||1.9||0.6||0.9||0.2||7.0|
|2018-19 *||All Teams||76||27||40.6||31.8||52.6||0.3||1.8||2.1||2.2||2.7||0.6||0.9||0.3||8.1|
|2020-21 *||All Teams||36||24||42.4||36.9||71.0||0.2||2.1||2.3||2.3||1.8||0.8||1.0||0.1||7.9|