"Defensively, I still think — like I've said before — I thought we've taken a little step backward," Rivers said after the Clippers gave up 110 points to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. "We've got to get that going again."
After taking Saturday off, the Clippers will practice Sunday and Monday in preparation for Tuesday's season opener against the Lakers in their designated home game at Staples Center.
Rivers said he expects his team to pick up its defensive intensity during the next two practices.
"Again, it's not a big deal to me," Rivers maintained. "We'll have this conversation four, five, 10, 12 more times. It's called human life. You go up and down, ebbs and flows. You don't overreact. You just keep working on it. We'll be a great defensive team. We have too many good defensive players."
Against the Kings on Friday, Rivers said the Clippers played "terrific" defense in the first nine minutes of the game.
That was during a first quarter in which the Clippers held the Kings to 20 points. The Kings went on to score 37 points in the second quarter, 32 points in the third and 21 in the fourth.
Rivers didn't play his starters much after the first quarter, and his second unit still isn't quite what it will be because of all the injuries the team has had in training camp.
In Wednesday's 103-99 win over the Utah Jazz, the Clippers held the Jazz to 23 first-quarter points. The Clippers then gave up 25 points in the second quarter, 27 in the third and 24 in the fourth.
Again, Rivers pointed out, because of injuries, his second unit was undermanned.
But the Clippers are taking his "defense-first" mantra to heart.
"We've got to get our defense back," Chris Paul said. "The first couple of preseason games our defense was really good. Now we've got to pick that energy back up and get off to a good start."
The Clippers waived forward Lou Amundson after Friday night's game, leaving their roster at 14 players.