Doc Rivers on Blake Griffin nearing return: ‘He’s looking good’
Not only are the Los Angeles Clippers riding high after stunning the Oklahoma City Thunder by scoring 22 of the game’s final 25 points in a 103-98 victory victory Wednesday night, the news that Blake Griffin is nearing his return probably lifted team spirits as well.
“Blake’s close. He’s looking good,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said before the game, via Pro Basketball Talk. “Honestly, watching him today (at shootaround), I was like, in my mind I was thinking ‘we could use some of that tonight.’ I don’t get involved in (the injury) part of it, I know there’s a reason he’s not activated. Honestly, today, watching him I said ‘Can he play tonight?’”
Rivers’ comments echo what Griffin also had to say about his imminent return.
After ceremony in Norman, Blake Griffin tells media he's "very close" to returning to action. Said he's not sure of exact timetable.
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) March 2, 2016
Griffin has not been cleared for contact by doctors just yet, and even once that occurs and he is ready to return to game action, he’ll have to first serve a four-game suspension related to an altercation in Toronto where he punched a team staffer, an incident that resulted in the broken hand that has sidelined him ever since.
But the fact that original estimates put Griffin possibly being out as long as two months means the fact alone he’s nearing a return has to be viewed as encouraging.
It is worth noting, though, that Griffin now has sat out more games (31) as he’s played this season (30), meaning even after he returns to the lineup, much work will need to be done to get him back into a rhythm, not to mention reintegrate himself into the flow an offense that underwent a radical transformation without the power forward prominently featured in the rotation.
The Clippers not only have survived during Griffin’s lengthy injury-related absences this season, they’ve thrived, going 23-7 while utilizing a small-ball lineup running a spread offense.
Despite all this, the Clippers understand they need Griffin to compete for an NBA title.
“I don’t care if he gets back the day before the playoffs,” point guard Chris Paul said. “We’re playing for a championship and there’s no championship without Blake Griffin. There’s not one.”