Griffin missed four of the Pistons’ final seven games in the regular season due to his knee injury. Griffin’s head coach said that the knee injury couldn’t get worse from playing, but that must not be the case. If it were, then Griffin would be out there playing.
Griffin hasn’t played since the first half of Detroit’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies last Tuesday. He sat out the season finale against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, so he had nearly a full week of rest. It’s concerning that it still wasn’t enough to have him ready for the playoff opener.
Previously, it was stated that Griffin couldn’t make things worse by playing through the injury. The fact that he’s not ready for the playoffs indicates just how severe things are.
The first round of the NBA playoffs gets under way this weekend. While the heavy favorites are expected to have little trouble, that doesn’t mean there’s no intrigue. There are plenty of things worth watching in the opening round of the playoffs. That includes a lot of star players, some favored and some not, who will have a lot of say in whether their teams advance.
Here is a look at ten key players worth watching as the first round gets underway.
Joel Embiid, C, 76ers
The lingering question is whether Embiid is healthy. He has left knee pain, and the updates he’s given haven’t exactly been encouraging. The fact is, for the Sixers to make a deep playoff run, they need Embiid to be healthy, or at least capable of playing like he’s healthy. A first-round matchup against Brooklyn will allow everyone to see exactly where Embiid is and what he’s capable of, which could inform a lot of Philadelphia’s expectations moving forward.
Blake Griffin, F, Pistons
Griffin is another star big man who simply isn’t healthy. Troubled by a bad knee, he actually sat out the Pistons’ final regular season game, which was essentially a must-win to get in the playoffs. That shows just how severe Griffin’s situation is. The Pistons would be heavy underdogs against the Milwaukee Bucks even with a healthy Griffin, and they don’t really have a chance without him at full strength. How much his knee limits him, if it allows him to play at all, is worth watching.
The Detroit Pistons are fighting to get into the playoffs, and they’ve subjected themselves to some questions by using a hobbled Blake Griffin to do it.
Griffin is battling left knee soreness and was clearly hobbled in Sunday’s loss, going just 5-of-18 from the field. The situation is severe enough that he sat out three consecutive games despite the Pistons being right in the middle of a playoff race.
So why isn’t he sitting more? According to coach Dwane Casey, Griffin’s knee issue has reached the point where it’s simply not going to get any worse if he plays through it.
#Pistons Dwane Casey said Blake Griffin is at a point where his playing can't injure the knee any worse, according to the medical staff. That's … interesting.
Griffin has a lengthy history of knee injuries, which makes this so concerning. He’s also Detroit’s most important player, and the franchise has only made the playoffs once in the last decade. They don’t want to miss out, even if they’re not really contenders to go beyond the first round.
The playoff races are well underway in the NBA, and things are very competitive in both conferences. It looks likely that only a handful of games will separate fifth from eighth in certain cases, and the margins between making and missing the playoffs will be small.
Most contenders have key figures who will have a big say in where their teams land. These aren’t always the obvious stars, but a key name who’s returning from injury or picking up the slack at the right time. Here are 10 key players who will have a big say in the playoff races.
10. Buddy Hield, G, Kings
Hield has had a breakout year this season, but he hasn’t always been in the good graces of coach Dave Joerger, much to the frustration of some other players. The Kings are very much in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, and they’ll need Hield to play fearlessly — and have the trust of his coach — down the stretch. If he can play to his capabilities — like when he made 53.4 percent of his threes in January — the Kings will have a huge weapon as they chase a playoff spot.
The Detroit Pistons have been wildly inconsistent this season, and some of the comments Blake Griffin has made recently about his teammates not focusing late in games has led to speculation that he wants to be traded. However, the star big man admits that is not the case.
After the Pistons lost to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday to fall to 21-28 on the season, Griffin was asked about some reports that he has informed the Pistons he wants a trade before next week’s deadline. He admitted he is frustrated with the way the team has been playing but urged people to “consider the source” of the rumors.
#Pistons Blake Griffin: "I am happy here and of course I’m frustrated. You should be frustrated – if you’re not frustrated, what are you doing playing basketball? Like Tom (Gores), I still believe in this team and we can turn this around and rattle off a couple wins." https://t.co/XE8DIxJZx2
The Pistons began the year 13-7 and had a record above .500 as of Dec. 19, but their play has fallen off significantly over the last month. Griffin recently gave an awkward postgame interview in which he criticized the team for not closing out games.
Griffin has had nothing but positive things to say about Detroit since he was traded by the Los Angeles Clippers, so there’s no reason to think his recent frustrations have to do with anything other than losing. While a trade can’t be ruled out, it seems highly unlikely.
Blake Griffin seems to have identified a problem that is costing the Detroit Pistons late in ballgames.
The Pistons went into the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans with a 79-70 lead. They were outscored 24-19 by the Pelicans in the fourth, but were able to hold on for a 98-94 win.
Following the game, Griffin cited a lack of focus at the end of games as being something the Pistons will need to improve upon.
Blake Griffin after the #Pistons escape New Orleans with a win: Nothing to be proud of, this is just masking our issue. Our lack of focus at the end of games has been awful.” Not a good time for Reggie Jackson to come and get in the way as Griffin makes his statement. pic.twitter.com/lYKrVE0Ntl
How about Reggie Jackson jumping in right as Griffin is criticizing the team’s lack of focus?
With last year’s NBA Coach of the Year Dwane Casey on board and a full year of Blake Griffin, expectations were higher for the Pistons this year than they had been heading into recent seasons. Those hopes have not yet been realized as Detroit is currently 21-26. However, due to the bottom of the Eastern Conference being so poor, the Pistons are only 1.5 games out of the conference’s eight seed for the playoff spot.
If the Pistons are going to claw their way into the postseason picture they will need to improve in several areas. Late-game focus would need to be one of those areas.
The suit said Cameron and Griffin were set to be married in 2017 but they called it off a month before after Griffin asked Cameron to sign a prenuptial agreement. He then supposedly took up a public affair with Jenner.
The two resolved their custody battle of their children, but it wasn’t until recently that the palimony suit was settled, according to The Blast.
Griffin’s relationship with Jenner fizzled out and he is now in his second season with the Detroit Pistons after previously being a lifelong Los Angels Clipper. Cameron, whose brother Jordan is a former NFL Pro Bowl tight end, also has a child with Matt Leinart.
Joe Ingles and Blake Griffin had a funny exchange in which Ingles wasn’t shy about telling Griffin exactly how he felt.
During the first quarter of Monday’s game between the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons, Ingles made contact with the back of Griffin. Griffin appeared to embellish the contact. It apparently worked because Ingles was called for an offensive foul.
As the two walked up the court, Ingles was shown calling Griffin a “flopper.”