Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin was initially projected to be out for about two weeks with a partially torn left quad tendon, but it’s been almost three weeks now and he’s showing no signs of returning "any time soon," according to head coach Doc Rivers.
Prior to the Clippers’ 104-90 win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday, Rivers informed the media that Griffin was not yet close to playing again, via Robert Morales of the Long Beach Press-Telegram:
“He’s running, which is nice and he looked great yesterday just moving around the gym,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before tipoff against the Heat. “But I think this thing is going to take time, if you want me to be honest. And I don’t know what that actually means.
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“But I don’t think we should look for him any time soon.”
The initial prognosis was clearly too optimistic, as another week would mean Griffin would miss about a month, and based on Rivers’ comments, a return that soon seems unrealistic.
But the Clippers have been rolling in Griffin’s absence, going 9-0 in the games he’s sat out to bring their win streak to 10 games overall.
Paul Pierce has been starting in his place, which has opened up the floor for Chris Paul, J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan to expand their offensive roles. Los Angeles has also stepped up defensively and on the glass without their All-Star big man, with the bench seeming to find its groove and clearly defined roles.
Though it’dd be silly to suggest the Clippers are better without Griffin. Griffin is a top-10 player, who was playing like a top-fiver right before he went out. He’s the only player in the league averaging at least 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists (23.2/8.7/5.0).
Once Griffin returns, Pierce will go back to the bench, and Rivers will have difficult choices to make with the second-unit rotation. Cole Aldrich and Pablo Prigioni have proven they are worthy of minutes, and it seems as if there’s no way Rivers will bench Jamal Crawford or Austin Rivers, no matter how inconsistent each one is offensively. Wesley Johnson could join Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith as the odd men out if he doesn’t regain the shooting stroke he flashed earlier in the season.
Having too much depth is a good problem to have, and now that the Clippers are clicking, adding an All-Star power forward into the mix should only make them that much more dangerous.