When Clippers guard Austin Rivers exited last night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers with a non-contact ankle injury, fans feared the worst. The word after the game was a strained right Achilles tendon, with an MRI pending for Saturday morning. Even optimists expected Rivers to miss the better part of a month as he recovered.
Fortunately for the Clippers, though, a report from Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania indicates that not only was Rivers’ MRI negative (meaning his Achilles was not ruptured), but his status is expected to be day-to-day. Austin might still take a few games off to get back to full strength after this injury scare, but it doesn’t appear to be anything serious enough to warrant an extended absence from the lineup.
It’s a huge break for the Clippers, who are already without starting point guard Patrick Beverley for the remainder of the season, and starting small forward Danilo Gallinari until mid-late January. Rivers was originally a backup, but has started 30 games due to injuries to Milos Teodosic and Beverley. He’s averaging 15.8 points and 3.6 assists while shooting 41.9% from the field and 40.5% from deep in what has been his best season as a professional. He’s been especially crucial for the team in December, averaging 19.2 points and 3.9 assists on 46%/43% shooting splits. It would have been a devastating loss for a depleted team that somehow has managed a 7-7 December record so far, staying alive while awaiting Blake Griffin’s return. Now, the Clippers can focus on their upcoming favorable matchups against Charlotte and Memphis, hopefully getting Rivers back for tough early January tests against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors