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Blake Griffin’s injury and what it means for the Clippers

by Photo of Ankit Ahuja

Griffin will miss between 4-6 weeks. How will the Clippers fare without him?

Blake Griffin’s injury and what it means for the Clippers

In this article…

What the Los Angeles Clippers feared the most is happening to them right now. Already having a slightly down year, the Clippers season took a turn for the worst on Sunday. Blake Griffin, arguably the team's best player, will be lost for 4-6 weeks with a staph infection in his elbow. The Clippers, already losers of four straight, have the toughest upcoming schedule of any team in the west. [Editor's Note: this stat was as of last night, before the Clippers convincingly beat the Dallas Mavericks 115-98.] Of their next 15 games, the Clippers play 12 teams with records over .500. With Griffin it would be a difficult task; without him, it seems daunting.

Making up for Griffin will not be easy. Without Griffin, multiple players will have to step up in his absence. For one, Spencer Hawes, the Clippers’ biggest offseason addition, must play at the level he did last year in Philadelphia and Cleveland. He has had an extremely down year for somebody who the Clippers thought could put them over the top, averaging just 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game.

It cannot only be Hawes though. Forward Glen Davis will have to play a bigger role, and center DeAndre Jordan will have to do more on the offensive end in the absence of Griffin. The Clippers bench, already one of the worst in the league, will have to play more minutes, which Coach Doc Rivers has been unwilling to do this season. The Clippers are going to be missing their best all around player, as Griffin leads the teams in shots, scoring, and is second in rebounds, assists and steals. It’s tough to replace that type of production from one player, but luckily for the Clippers they have one of the best guards in Chris Paul. Paul, who is the vocal leader of the team, will have to play at an MVP level to keep the Clippers afloat.

Although the Clippers have their deficiencies, they currently possess the best offense in the league, which Griffin is a huge part of. With Griffin on the floor, the Clippers score an astounding 114 points per 100 possessions. When he is not on the floor, the Clippers score 100 points per 100 possessions. That difference in scoring is going to affect the Clippers in a big way. Another problem with the Clippers is their defense. They rank 20th in defense, which is surprising because Doc Rivers' teams are usually known for defensive prowess. Even with all the Clippers’ problems, they have still managed to hold a 33-19 in a historically tough western conference.

Although it is unlikely the Clippers miss the playoffs, Griffin could miss up to 19 games if he is out the full six weeks, which is what the organization fears. Currently the team is 6th in the west and only 5.5 games ahead of the 9th seed. If the Clippers don’t play close to .500, they will be in danger of missing the playoffs, because the teams behind them are playing their best basketball of the season. With Doc Rivers coaching the team, it will be interesting to see if he can guide the team similar to the way he did last year in the playoffs amidst the Donald Sterling Scandal. The Clippers feared that one injury could derail their season. Now that the injury bug has hit, let’s see how they respond.

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