For the second year in a row, Blake Griffin has suffered a season-ending injury during the playoffs.
Friday night, late in the second quarter of Game 3 of the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz first round playoff series, Griffin appeared to hurt his toe before heading to the locker room in frustration. He was later ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Today, it was learned that a bruised right big toe will cost him the remainder of the playoffs.
The Clippers just announced that Blake Griffin's toe injury suffered last night will sideline him for the remainder of the playoffs …
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 22, 2017
The Clippers were able to orchestrate a comeback in Game 3 to lead the series 2-1, due in large part to the heroics of Chris Paul, who finished the game with 34 points and 10 assists. However, with Griffin going down in the playoffs for the second consecutive year, the Clippers have some questions to ask themselves.
Having seen Griffin miss so many games due to injury in recent years, the Clippers have had no choice but to learn how to play without his services. With him set to enter free agency this summer, Clippers head coach and President of Basketball Operations Doc Rivers, has to question whether it would a good idea to re-sign Griffin to a max contract where he’ll make $170+ million over the next 5 years.
The 28-year-old has career averages of 21.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game on 51.8 percent shooting from the field. The talent and individual numbers are obviously there for Griffin — as they’ve always been. It’s the durability that is a major concern. Griffin played just 61 games this regular season, which followed a regular season in which he played only 35 regular season games, and 67 regular season games the season before that. Having missed at least 15 games in each of the last three seasons shows that injuries have become a pattern. Seeing him go down for the second straight year in the playoffs is a potentially devastating blow for the Clippers’ hopes of making a deep playoff run.
This series against the Jazz is still far from over as the Clippers will be forced to endure the rest of the playoffs without Griffin. Most teams can win regular season games without one of their star players — as the Clippers have consistently shown, but the playoffs are a different story. No matter how many more games the Clippers may be able to win for the remainder of this postseason, Doc Rivers will have a tough question to answer about Blake Griffin this summer.
Griffin has obviously meant a lot to the Clippers franchise since being drafted No. 1 overall in 2009. After missing his rookie season, Griffin made his debut and immediately became a fan favorite with his amazing athleticism, incredible leaps, high-flying dunks, and highlight reel plays. He brought relevancy to the Clippers over the past 7 seasons, which isn’t something any former Clipper over it’s nearly 50-year history can really say. However, after watching Griffin undergo multiple knee surgeries, tear his quad, break his hand, and bruise his toe all within a short period of time, at least some doubt has to be there.
He’s still relatively young, is still very talented, and has shown he can still be an elite player. Is that enough to want to sign him to a max contract, or are his durability issues and unreliable health reason to perhaps look in another direction? It’s a tough question, but one that needs to be answered. We’ll all find out this summer.