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Clippers to Rest Stars Against Thunder

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Raise your hand if you're excited for tonight's Austin Rivers-Jamal Crawford-Wesley Johnson-Luc Richard Mbah a Moute-Cole Aldrich starting lineup. Nobody? Hello?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the 4-seed all but locked up, as the Clippers sit 4.5 games behind the Thunder and 6.5 ahead of the Grizzlies, Doc Rivers has the freedom to give his starters some rest as the regular season winds down. It's no secret that Chris Paul has taken his play to a new level to keep the team chugging along in Blake Griffin's absence and if his decision to skip the Olympics this summer is any indication, the man is tired.

We keep hearing about CP, but let's not forget the dominant play of DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick's continued excellence over the last three months. Their contributions have kept the Clippers in the top-6 of the offensive and defensive efficiency ratings despite playing their last 44 games while one of the NBA's best rides the pine.

According to Brad Turner of the LA Times in a tweet from last night, Doc is seizing the opportunity to give Chris, DJ, and J.J. the night off against the Thunder:

Though seeding battles likely won't play into his decision down the stretch, Blake's Sunday return surely will. The team will have seven games to work him back into the lineup and Doc will be tasked with figuring out how to best balance getting guys the rest they've earned and relocating that rhythm with Blake back on the floor. It's smart timing on Doc's part and in all likelihood, we'll see the team back at full-strength, for the first time since Christmas, Sunday against the Wizards.

Rest is nice, but don't expect much of it, as getting Blake back into game shape and gelling with the rest of the starters needs to be the priority here. Ideally, with some weaker opponents on the schedule (Lakers twice, Suns), the starters can do their damage in the first three quarters and kick back and relax in the fourth, as they were able to last night in a decisive win over the Timberwolves.