Rick Carlisle likes to call them “milk drinkers.”
They are good teammates and good players, but not necessarily equipped with the mentality of having a mean streak or the willingness to stir things up.
The LA Clippers are full of guys who most definitely are not milk drinkers.
That said, coach Doc Rivers chuckled at the idea that any of his players might have agitated Kristaps Porzingis or any other Maverick into a situation that could have compromised their availability for Game 1.
“I’ve never met a coach in my life before the game thinking: OK, this is what I need to do to get under their skin,” Rivers said Tuesday, the day after the Clips had taken a 1-0 lead in the best-of seven first-round series against the Mavericks.
While that’s probably true, Rivers admitted that the Clippers do have some non-milk-drinkers.
“I think we have some guys who are agitators. I think that’s good,” he said. “But I can guarantee you that wasn’t on our game plan list. That’s just ridiculous.”
That falls in line with Rivers’ opinion that the technical fouls that may or may not have turned Game 1 in the Clippers’ favor weren’t something he is a fan of.
Porzingis got a technical foul for his air-punch and then a second one, and the ejection that comes with it, for intervening and, apparently, escalating an on-court confrontation.
Earlier, Paul George had gotten a technical for an air-punch that was virtually identical to the one Porzingis let fly.
“I didn’t like it actually,” Rivers said. “If I have a criticism, I didn’t think P.G. should have got a tech and I didn’t think Porzingis should have got the first tech.
“It was a quick frustration thing. I don’t know how you judge that. I guarantee you they had to give his because they gave Paul his in the first quarter. I thought those first two techs were connected. I didn’t like either one of them . . . Don’t get me going on techs.”
Carlisle wasn’t thrilled with the events of Game 1. But he also knows that this is a best-of-seven series. Next week at this time, they might still be playing against the Clippers.
“There’s a context to everything,” he said. “I’m not sure we’re at a point where a punch in the air should be an automatic anything. Some people view it as a disrespect to the officials, but sometimes, players are just mad at themselves. I don’t know. If I say too much I’ll lose 50-grand. But like Doc, I was disappointed.”
Rivers is happy to have the agitators on his side, as long as they do it with a level of smarts. But he also said that the second technical on Porzingis during the dust-up with Luka Dončić possibly could have been avoided.
“Guys like that, you just let them be who they are, you know?” Rivers said of players like Patrick Beverley and Marcus Morris. “No offense on the Porzingis throw-out. That wasn’t enough for anyone else to get involved. There was nothing there.
“Marcus and Dončić really were having a conversation. For him (Porzingis) to come into that, to me it had to be something else, earlier, that him and Marcus got into. There was nothing there. There was not enough for him to run in and be the peacemaker. There was no war going on, so . . . “
Slip-sliding away: Carlisle was asked about the state of the courts at the Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., after several players, including Luka Doncic, slipped while attempting to make moves.
“The climate should be perfect. They got the humidity and the temperature and there’s not a lot of influence by a big crowd,” Carlisle said. “I’m not sure of the answer. I have seen some guys slip. If I was a player, and I slipped and there was nobody near me, I’d be concerned, too.
“It seems like it’s OK, for the most part, but I have seen some guys slip. Hopefully, if there is an issue, it gets resolved.”
Briefly: Carlisle was asked about matching wits with Doc Rivers, who, like Carlisle, is one of the five active coaches who have won a championship. “That’s what the playoffs are all about,” he said. “You’re playing against the best.” . . . Rivers said he is impressed about the way the Mavericks have adapted to the loss of center Dwight Powell, which necessitated the move of Porzingis to the center spot instead of power forward: “Listen, it took the league years to figure out how to guard range shooting fours,” Rivers said. “Now we’ve moved onto range shooting fives. Now we’re adjusting to that, as well.”