Nets Notes: Blake Griffin Posts Double-Double

The Milwaukee Bucks gave Blake Griffin a new look and Griffin took advantage.

Griffin opened up Brooklyn’s Eastern Conference semifinal with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and three assists as the Nets took Game 1 at Barclays Center, 115-107. Griffin made 4-of-9 3-pointers and shot 7-of-13 overall while playing 35 minutes.

It was a dramatic difference from round one against the Celtics, in which Griffin attempted just 18 shots and two 3-pointers in 20.4 minutes per game through five games.

“We knew he would get looks,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “Boston switched everything and he wasn’t going to get looks. We know that the Bucks have traditionally packed the paint and protected the rim. He got some looks that we expected. You know the make and misses are important in its finality, but that willingness to flight and claw and do the dirty work has been unbelievable from Blake since he got here. His energy and toughness as well. How much he cares is on display. And that was very impressive and it definitely gave our team a big shot in the arm.”

On a night in which the Nets took a hit from the start in losing James Harden in the opening minute of the game, Griffin kept everybody charged up with his aggressiveness, particularly a couple of loose ball scrums in which his battle for the ball brought the Barclays Center crowd to its feet.

“He’s been in this league for a long time,” said Kyrie Irving. “We just expect him to do a lot of the little things that get us in position to be up ahead. We just want him to continue to be the same and continue to demand greatness out of himself. Being a lot of other veteran players, I know it eases his mind. We are very direct with him in terms of communication. When we are able to do that and we’re eye-to-eye, we’re in a better place when Blake is out there like that.”

It's a role that the five-time All-NBA forward has embraced since coming to Brooklyn. An offensive centerpiece during his days with the Clippers, Griffin is 13th among active NBA players with his 21.9 points per game career scoring average. After knee issues limited him to 18 games with the Pistons during the 2019-20 season, he and the Pistons agreed to a buyout at midseason this year, freeing him up to sign with the Nets in March.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound veteran brought physicality and a versatile offensive skill set off the bench for Brooklyn over his first two months with the Nets — playmaking, 3-point range, and some throwback looking dunks. In the final two weeks of the season, he moved into the starting center role and has been there since.

“When I was coming to this team, one of the things I felt like I could bring was some physicality and some plays like that,” said Griffin. “When you have a team as dynamic as this team with three scorers who can kind of score from anywhere, Joe (Harris) who also just — it seems like every shot he shoots is going in. You kind of have to fill those holes somewhere, like what Bruce Brown has done for the team all year long is huge, and I was watching that and I felt like that’s another hole that can be filled. Like I’ve been saying: at this point being part of something bigger than yourself and trying to win takes precedence, so you do whatever it takes.”

Leaving the court late in the fourth quarter with Brooklyn’s win secured, Griffin drew one more ovation from the crowd.

“It felt good,” said Griffin. “I've sort of talked about it, but for two years I kind of like, I didn't hear much positivity. And probably rightfully so but it's pretty crazy how quickly it happens. So I'm just thankful for this chance and the opportunity.”