Sunday marked the return of Blake Griffin into the lineup. The four-game suspensions for hitting team equipment manager is over. His injury is healed. It’s time to play basketball. The question that lingers is if Griffin is ready to get back in the lineup without missing a beat? Well, yes and no.
The Clippers have been on a roll since Griffin’s left the lineup. Doc implemented a small ball lineup, although a lineup featuring a guy over 7 feet (DeAndre Jordan) isn’t my definition of small. The point is that having two big ball stoppers in Jordan and Griffin doesn’t let you be overly creative on the offensive end. Having only one to worry about (I’m stressing worry when it comes to Jordan’s free throw shooting) is a much lesser problem when you can just remove him from the fourth quarter free-throw disasters.
Without Blake, Paul is clearly the go-to option and there is no second guessing whose team it is. There has to be some deferral when Blake is on the court. With Jordan there is no such worry since he doesn’t demand the ball. That’s in the past now, Blake is back and the mix and Doc and the fellas need to find a way to bring him back to speed.
It would be silly to assume that Griffin is inserted back into the lineup without any rust. If Sunday was any sign of it there will be some good and bad. Griffin only contributed with six points, five rebounds and four assists in limited time. His plus/minus though was far more impressive.
Good things with Blake Griffin on court https://t.co/W47OKph5lm
— CLIPPERS BEAT BLOG (@ClipperBeat) April 6, 2016
With only a handful of games remaining, Griffin will need to get in shape fairly quickly before the playoffs begin. The first round projected matchup against the Grizzlies won’t be easy, even though the Grizzlies are running out people from the stands to fill in for all their injuries. “Starting at guard for the Grizzlies, from his mother’s basement, number 18 Joe Schmo.”
Now, for all the questions that are arising about how Griffin might fit into the the team after punchgate should be put to rest. You’re getting one of the top 10 players in the NBA back into your lineup. The best player on your team. If that’s a detriment then go watch the Clippers of 1998. It’s lunacy to think that Griffin can hurt this team in any way. Assuming he isn’t swinging his closed fist at someone.
At the moment the Clippers are neck-in-neck with the Thunder as the third-best team in the Western Conference. Blake can be the one to tip the scales. James Harden isn’t walking through that door for the Thunder.
Twenty-nine out of 30 NBA teams would never say no to having Griffin in their lineup. The Clippers shouldn’t be the only one of them.