Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin “Very Close” To Return

LOS ANGELES – Blake Griffin told reporters at his jersey ceremony in Oklahoma he’s “very close” to a return, then gave further reason to believe that Wednesday night before the Clippers played the Thunder.

Griffin warmed up on the court before a game for the first time since his injuries, putting up mid-range jump shots with ease. Just like Griffin, head coach Doc Rivers described the power forward as “very close” to a return.

“The last couple days, he’s been playing and looking great,” Rivers said.

Rivers said during the weekend he didn’t believe Griffin was particularly close, but after watching him work out the last couple days, the Clippers’ head coach changed his tune.

Griffin still hasn’t been cleared for contact, according to Rivers, but it sounds as if that may be the only hurdle stopping Griffin.

“That’s probably why he’s not playing,” Rivers said. “My guess is that he’s healthy, but the hand doctor probably has not cleared him for contact as far as getting hit. That’s the only thing. Honestly, watching him today, I was thinking that has to be the only reason is they’re worried it’s not healed properly yet. That’s the only thing I can come up with.”

Griffin has been out since Dec. 26 with quad and hand injuries, missing the Clippers’ last 29 games. Rivers said with a tough month and for chemistry and rhythm purposes, it’d be nice to get Griffin as many regular season games as possible.

Austin Rivers, who returned Wednesday after missing 10 games rehabbing a fractured hand, said he knows Griffin’s “chomping at the bit to get back” and that Griffin’s looking like normal working out.  

“He was shooting it like Blake shoots it from that mid-range,” Austin Rivers said. “He was rolling to the basket, jumping high. He looked pretty good, so he’s got to be pretty close.”

The Clippers entered Wednesday night 22-7 since Griffin went out, but they’ve all talked about the importance of getting him back as soon as possible.

“Blake’s been out it feels like this whole year,” Austin Rivers said. “I know he can’t wait to get back. That’s one of those things you just have to keep him ready and be there for him, because I know he’s frustrated.”

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