Injury Update: As Paul Goes Out, Griffin Nears Return
LOS ANGELES – The only silver lining to Chris Paul’s injury for the Clippers is knowing another superstar isn’t far away from returning to help.
Blake Griffin is sprinting and going through basketball drills without the need of a brace, as the beginning of a four to six week recovery following his Dec. 20 arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies from his right knee has arrived.
Head coach Doc Rivers said he noticed when Griffin’s knee first got sore he wasn’t facing up offensively and blowing by defenders the way he was early in the year. Now, he sees those attributes returning.
“He looks great,” Rivers said earlier this week. “I don’t think the timeframe has changed. I know he feels wonderful. He looks like he’s explosive again.”
While there’s no set date yet for Griffin’s return, it appears to be close.
Rivers said Wednesday the Clippers would need about a week or two of dealing without both Paul and Griffin, meaning it should only be a handful of games remaining before the return of the star forward, who was averaging 21.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game prior to injury.
Griffin’s teammates have noticed the work he’s put in to get ready as quickly as possible.
“You see a guy like that with his caliber of talent and his caliber of status and to see him work as hard as anybody on this team, that’s always a positive,” said Raymond Felton. “That makes other guys continue to work hard when you see him try to work back off his injury and push how he’s pushing.”
Thursday night against the Timberwolves marked the 16th straight game without Griffin, who will need to go through contact drills before making his return. As the Clippers eagerly await for that to happen, they also want to make sure he doesn’t hurry himself too much.
“Right now, if we can hold down the ship as long as possible, he is our best player and we need him to do what we want to do in the postseason,” Austin Rivers said. “But just be patient, don’t rush back too early. I think he understands that.”
It’ll likely be at least another couple games the Clippers will have to find ways to win without two of their best players, something they already had to deal with earlier this season for seven games when Griffin was out with his knee injury and Paul was out with a hamstring strain.
But as Griffin works out, shoots and explodes to the rim in practice, his teammates are encouraged by the boost he’s sure to provide soon, particularly with Paul out for the next six to eight weeks.
“We’re excited,” said DeAndre Jordan. “I’m ready for Blake to come back. I know he’s extremely ready to be back on the floor. Whenever both of those guys are back and we’re a full, healthy team, we’re going to be pretty tough. While these guys are still out, everybody’s going to step it up even more and be ready to play.”