'We’re taking this day by day' – Griffin’s knee injury clouds Pistons as playoffs dawn
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
AUBURN HILLS – If you’re looking for clues as to whether Blake Griffin’s name will be called in the starting lineup when the Pistons open the playoffs at Milwaukee on Sunday, he’s not the one dropping any bread crumbs.
“We’re taking this day by day,” he said after practice on Saturday and before the Pistons flew to Milwaukee. “I’m not looking forward to a day that’s not here right now in front of me. I’ll sit with our training staff and whoever else needs to be in on that decision and make that each day.”
If the game were tonight, he was asked, would he be able to play?
“It’s not tonight.”
His teammates, though, paint a more vivid picture of the situation with Griffin’s sore left knee, which caused him to miss four of the season’s final seven games – including the playoff-clinching win at New York on Wednesday in the regular-season finale.
“It’s a void,” Ish Smith said. “But once that ball tips, you have to play. There’s no overthinking it. Right now, not having him, thinking about it right now, it’s a huge void. We’ve all got to step up.”
Griffin shot free throws after Friday’s practice when media members were allowed in to their practice facility, but none of the typical post-practice shooting or individual work. On Saturday, he was seen only on the exercise bike while his teammates completed their shooting drills.
“I’m just preparing, doing everything our training staff asks of me,” Griffin said. “Just making sure that we’re all locked in. Making sure in our walk throughs and everything we need to be locked in for these games is going smoothly.”
Griffin missed the three games following a big March 28 win over Orlando when his knee issue first flared. He returned to score 45 points in an April 5 loss at Oklahoma City but struggled noticeably to move laterally or jump two days later when the Pistons lost to Charlotte. In Tuesday’s home finale, when the Pistons rallied from a 19-point halftime deficit to beat Memphis, Griffin left after less than four minutes of the second half, then was made inactive for the win over the Knicks to get the Pistons to 41-41 and earn the No. 8 seed.
He was asked whether it was “bittersweet” to miss that win after carrying the Pistons while averaging a career-high 24.5 points over the course of the season.
“When you’re not playing, I think you try to find another way to help, so I don’t consider it not helping,” he said. “Whether that’s what I’ve said to guys all year long, leading by example, leading on the bench with my voice, I don’t look at it as not helping. No, not bittersweet at all. We’re right where we want to be.”
But uncertain they’ll have everyone they want – and need – in uniform when the franchise’s first playoff appearance in three years gets rolling against the team with the NBA’s best record.