Blake is Back
*Photo via USA Today
The importance of Blake Griffin in the Clippers lineup is crucial to the teams overall success.
Blake Griffin graced us all with his return to the hardwood Sunday against the Houston Rockets. He nearly earned a triple double with 11 points, 11 boards, and 8 dimes in the 100-98 Clippers’ loss. The former Oklahoma Sooner was sidelined for 15 games, after being diagnosed with a staph infection and underwent surgery.
Playing a team-high 41 minutes, on 4 of 10 shooting and five turnovers, Blake still had an impact on the overall outcome of the game. The Clippers were down by 15 at one point and eventually came close, but not close enough. With Griffin now being able to contribute on the floor, his confident play is only going to benefit the Clippers on both ends.
Griffin was forced to avoid any physical contact for nearly 6 weeks. Coming into Sunday’s contest, Blake knew he wouldn't be going off for his usual 30 points and 15 rebounds stat line. Despite his 5 turnovers, the Clippers staff was very impressed with his play.
Even though he only began shooting just over a week ago, Griffin only shot within the 10 foot range from the hoop. Blake stated his confidence wasn't high in his shooting, but hopes it will increase as he attempts to regain his playing form.
Going 9-6 without Griffin, the Clippers were anxious to have Blake back in uniform. Without much action, some thought Griffin’s timing would be off. After his performance Sunday, I’m sure those thoughts have been put to rest. Working the big man back into the lineup may have seemed tough from the outside looking in. Coach Doc Rivers had no worries in keeping things flowing with Griffin in the lineup.
Without Griffin in the lineup, other Clippers have stepped up their play to increase their level of production. Coach Rivers doesn't feel that Griffin will alter the play of DeAndre Jordan. Jordan held his own very nicely while Blake was out. It was very obvious Sunday as DeAndre hauled in 20 rebounds in the loss.
Chris Paul was very excited to have Blake back as the two combine for a solid one-two combo.
Opponents focused very hard on trapping Paul and eliminating his court vision as he shouldered much of the load for the Clippers. While Blake’s presence will certainly have the attention of their opponents, Paul will have much more opportunities to create scoring chances for himself. The squad is obviously very glad to have him back for the remainder of the season.
Coach Doc feels the time Blake had to rest will only benefit him and the team in the long run.