Griffin’s ‘perfect attitude’ helps the Pistons get through trade transition with flying colors
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AUBURN HILLS – Stan Van Gundy would have understood if Blake Griffin needed a few days or a week or two to get over the shock of being uprooted from the Los Angeles Clippers and plopped into the middle of a Michigan winter, but the reality is the Pistons playoff chances required otherwise.
On an eight-game losing streak at the time of the trade – it was just last week, or maybe forever ago for how distant it seems – the three-game win streak since making the deal is in part testament to how seamlessly Griffin was able to mentally shift gears.
“You never know what a guy’s initial reaction is going to be,” Van Gundy said after shootaround for tonight’s game with Portland when the Pistons will try to make it four straight and get back to .500. “I’m actually surprised the way he came in. A guy who’s been the face of a franchise in one place, I would’ve expected a longer adjustment period. But he came in with a great attitude and energy about him.”
Griffin hit every right note as his introductory press conference last Wednesday and starred the following night as the Pistons beat Memphis with Griffin recording a double-double and feeding Anthony Tolliver for the game-winning basket. In Saturday’s win over Miami, Griffin hit a critical 3-pointer and then iced the win by setting up Ish Smith for another triple.
At every turn, he’s cited his teammates’ contributions and lauded them for their support and the way they’ve embraced him.
“This was the true definition of a team win to me,” he said after the Miami game, rattling off every name from the box score for their part in the victory.
Van Gundy gave the Pistons a day off from practice on Sunday despite his instinctive desire to flesh out more of the playbook to better exploit Griffin’s repertoire. But he knew he had a physically exhausted team and, beyond that, an emotionally frayed one after a tumultuous week that saw three popular teammates – Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley and Boban Marjanovic – removed from the locker room.
General manager Jeff Bower first suggested to Van Gundy after Saturday’s win that they nix Sunday’s practice and Van Gundy’s assistant coaches – four of whom who’d missed Thursday’s win with the flu – concurred.
The call was easier for Van Gundy because of the vibe he feels from a team whose resilience he admires.
“The spirit is good. We have good guys and Blake has come in with, quite honestly, the perfect attitude,” he said. “He hasn’t come in as the guy who knows everything. He’s really come in and just communicated well with guys, appreciated everybody else’s contributions. You see his excitement. He’s a team guy and it shows on the floor, too. That stuff goes a long, long way as a team.”