LA Clippers need more from Blake Griffin when he returns

Blake Griffin had a terrible showing against the Golden State Warriors last week, and the LA Clippers need him to take control again when he returns.

The LA Clippers started the 2016-17 NBA season on fire, crushing the Portland Trail Blazers 111-80, beating the San Antonio Spurs 116-92 on the road, and taking down the Toronto Raptors 123-115 on the way to a franchise-record and league-best 14-2 record.

But after a few eyebrow-raising loses to sub .500 teams, though, most notably the Brooklyn Nets and then the Indiana Pacers twice in the space of 10 days, followed closely by a complete 115-98 massacre at the hands of the Golden State Warriors last Wednesday, its clear the Clippers still have work to do. At the very least, they need to snap back to the level of intensity that led them to such a strong start to the season.

The additions of Marreese Speights and Raymond Felton have finally given the Clippers a reserve unit they can rely on, but as is, and always has been the case, Los Angeles will only go as far as the starters can take them.

Specifically, the superstar duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

The ugly loss to Golden State was a strange one to watch. Blake seemed rattled. In arguably the most important game of the Clippers’ season so far, the real test of their ability to go against the best team in the league and face up strong against a potential Western Conference Final opponent, and they failed in spectacular fashion. On a night where the Warriors just couldn’t get their shot going, shooting 7-of-30 from three-point range, the Clippers were still out-scored by 17 points, with Blake going 5-of-20 from the field for only 12 points, a season low.

Even worse than that was the way he racked up another season-high in turnovers, recording seven for the game and five in the first quarter alone. He’d only had five turnovers in one other game this season and he matched it in less than 12 minutes against the Warriors, suffering against the defense of Draymond Green in the post and throwing a host of unassertive, unsettled passes away on drives to the rim.

Griffin wasn’t himself whatsoever, and he didn’t give the LA Clippers the interior, physical edge they desperately needed to gain an advantage against the Warriors.

After he returns from dealing with left knee soreness, which kept him sidelined against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, he needs to turn things around. He’s listed as questionable for Monday night’s game, but Doc Rivers said Griffin should be back, per Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com.

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I expect Blake to come back into the team looking to redeem himself, either against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night or in Orlando on Wednesday. To help him out, both are far more favorable matchups than this overpowered Warriors team.

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