Griffin Set To Make Return After 45-Game Absence
LOS ANGELES – Blake Griffin’s eager but realistic as he gets set to return to action Sunday for the first time since missing 45 games with quad and hand injuries.
It’s the former injury that started his absence and extended it, as he tried to figure out the right way to go about his rehab once he started missing games in late December.
“It just wasn’t being allowed to heal,” Griffin said. “The tear is still there. It’s just about managing the pain and getting through this.”
Griffin said there was no re-tear of the injury or a separate tear, but the small tear became a three-month absence because it took time to figure out the right way for it to heal.
“We weren’t addressing the initial problem, the main problem,” Griffin said. “Everything I was doing was just putting more stress on my knee.”
It’s an injury Griffin say may still need to be addressed this summer. In the meantime, he wants to help how he can, but he knows he needs to be smart as he tries to help the Clippers down the stretch with seven games left in the season.
“It’s tough because you want to play a lot and make up for missed time,” Griffin said. “But, you’ve got to be patient and only do what my body allows me to do. This will test my patience a lot. It’ll be good.”
Griffin’s not going into Sunday’s return with specific goals or expectations.
It’s almost impossible for him to know after more than three months out how he’ll feel regarding his conditioning and endurance, something he said he’ll figure out as he goes along.
Head coach Doc Rivers said he’s not sure exactly how many minutes Griffin will get yet, but he said Griffin will “most likely” start, with Luc Mbah a Moute likely serving as the other forward.
“You just have to watch,” Rivers said. “I don’t care if you’re healthy and 100 percent and you haven’t played, you’ve just got to be careful. You don’t want to throw a guy out there and him get injured because you’re overplaying him. So, we just have to be very careful.”
Regarding the tear still being present, Rivers said returning 100 percent from an injury is rare for anyone. The question, Rivers said, is whether or not a player is healthy enough to play.
“That’s always the question when guys get injured and they’re out this long,” Rivers said. “You clearly would rather heal the rest of the summer, but you don’t have that option. The next option is, ‘Can you play?’ The fact that you can play, then from that point, you’ve got to make sure you can keep him playing.”
Rivers believes his eyes will tell him how much or how little Griffin will be able to go, plus he said the medical team and Griffin will be able to tell a lot of it.
“When you have an injury to your body, especially your lower body, it’s always a pain issue,” Rivers said. “Then what we’re going to have to find out from him is how many minutes creates more pain, or less. We’ll figure that all out.”
Chris Paul said he knows he can’t demand way too much immediately from Griffin, because he knows he’ll naturally want to give him the ball every time down and the Clippers’ regulars will need to let Griffin work his way back in.
However much Griffin plays, his teammates are glad to get him back on the court in some capacity.
“Obviously, we’re unbelievably excited to have him back on the court,” Paul said. “It’s big for our team, it’s big for the organization, it’s big for our fans.”