Dan Feldman

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, right, goes up for a dunk as Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless defends during the second half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, April 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 102-81. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Report: Blake Griffin played in playoffs knowing there’d be ‘strong possibility’ he’d aggravate quad injury

2 Comments

When Blake Griffin broke his hand punching a Clippers equipment manager in January, it raised plenty of questions about his commitment to the team. How could he so foolishly sideline himself during what could’ve been a special season?

But perhaps Griffin deserves a little more credit.

Griffin hurt his quad on Christmas (and was still sidelined when he punched Matias Testi). He eventually returned from the injuries and suspension – only to aggravate his quad Monday, ending his season.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Griffin knew, according to league sources, there was a strong possibility he would re-tear his left quadriceps tendon by playing in the playoffs.

Griffin could’ve and maybe should’ve undergone the procedure to fix the tendon immediately after suffering the injury on Christmas, according to league sources, but it would’ve ended his Clippers season because of a four- to six-month recovery.

Griffin’s decision in December also meant he was knowingly surrendering his chance of playing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, because he was told he would need the significant bone-marrow-injection procedure eventually. If he did it in December and used the NBA season to recover, he could be back for a summer with USA Basketball.

If this is true, Doc Rivers and Griffin’s teammates who knew should be praising Griffin’s sacrifice – publicly with their names attached. Why did this leak through anonymous sources? It might be unseemly for Griffin to disclose his own valor, but someone could do it on his behalf. I understand keeping this under wraps while Griffin is playing through the injury, but why not reveal it now that he’s done for the postseason?

Griffin still deserves blame for punching Testi and everything that came with it. The questions about whether his immaturity trumps his devotion to the Clippers aren’t off the table.

But there’s a bigger picture, and one act doesn’t define the man. Griffin is more than the guy who punched an equipment manager – and more than the guy who delayed surgery to help his team.

Does this complicated situation explain why none of Griffin’s teammates or coaches have publicly praised him?

Damian Lillard: ‘Neither team had an All-Star out there’

Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, right, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Cole Aldrich defends during the first half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
1 Comment

The Trail Blazers lead the Clippers, 3-2. Portland has won three straight. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are out the rest of the series.

What’s it like to finally be the favorite, Damian Lillard?

Lillard:

It’s funny you say that. Neither team had an All-Star out there.

What a great and correct point to be brought up by Lillard, who was arguably the best player not be an All-Star this year.

He’ll forever have a chip on his shoulder, and I love it.

Doc Rivers brought to tears in pregame interview session (video)

4 Comments

LOS ANGELES — Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ eyes welled with tears and he became choked up before his team’s 108-98 loss to Portland in Game 5 of their first-round series.

During his pregame availability Wednesday night, Rivers was asked who he leans on to get through after losing injured stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

Rivers responded, “I don’t know,” and his dark eyes filled with tears. He paused and put his hand to his face in an attempt to keep any liquid from spilling out. He told the media that his emotional reaction wasn’t in response to the reporter’s question.

The 54-year-old coach mentioned his late mother, Bettye Rivers, saying, “That would have been the person.”

She died last June in Maywood, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where Rivers grew up and starred at Proviso East High School.

Rivers stared straight ahead in the quiet room before getting up and walking out.

The Clippers and Trail Blazers are tied 2-2. Griffin is out for the season after aggravating a quadriceps injury, while Paul broke his hand in Game 4 on Monday.

Back in 2008, Rivers had guided the Boston Celtics within a game of the NBA championship when he had a similar emotional reaction involving his father. He choked back tears thinking of Grady Rivers, who died during that season. The Celtics clinched their 17th title two days later by beating the Lakers on Father’s Day.

Grady Rivers had juggled his schedule as a Chicago police lieutenant so he could watch his son’s games. He had coached his son’s baseball team and he watched him became a prep star who went on to college success at Marquette before playing in the NBA.

At the time, Doc Rivers said his father was a tough subject for him to discuss. He hadn’t had time to reflect on his father’s death during that season, but he said he thought about him often.

Rivers and his wife, Kris, have two grown sons and a daughter who frequently attend Clippers’ games. Their other son, Austin, plays for the Clippers; he is the first player in NBA history to play for his father.

Erik Spoelstra on Dwayne Wade’s final shot: ‘He got fouled’

15 Comments

The Hornets escaped Miami with a two-point Game 5 win yesterday, but not before roughing up Dwyane Wade on his final shot.

Cody Zeller and Courtney Lee defended Wade’s attempted putback, and Wade fell to the floor after contact.

Enough contact to warrant a foul?

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, via Dave George of The Palm Beach Post:

“I don’t need to see it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked if he watched a replay on the crucial no-call. “He got fouled.”

Wade, via Ethan Skolnick of the Miami Herald:

“I haven’t looked at it,” Wade said. “It’s pointless now. There’s no reason for me to look at it. It’s not going to change anything. I thought I did. But it wasn’t called.”

Officials rarely blow the whistle in those closing moments, because they don’t want to decide the game – as if letting a foul go uncalled isn’t also deciding the game. I hate how the de facto rules change in crunch time, but everyone – including Zeller and Lee – knows the situation. That affected how Charlotte defended.

Should it have been a foul? It’s close. I think Zeller was clean, but it appears Lee got his hands too much on Wade.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Last Two Minute Report says after the NBA reviews the play from multiple angles.

There’s a less suspense about Spoelstra’s fate. He’ll probably get fined.

Warriors, despite dropping game, historically dominant in series win over Rockets

3 Comments

The Rockets stunned the basketball world.

By beating the Warriors once.

With a Game 3 upset, Houston upended the widely held assumption that Golden State would dominate a first-round sweep. But that altered only the series’ length, not the Warriors’ preeminence.

Golden State outscored the Rockets by 94 points in its 4-1 victory – a combined point difference topped by only one four-game sweep in NBA history.

Overall, the Warriors’ +94 ranks fourth among all series. The Thunder (who outscored the Mavericks by 91) and Spurs (who outscored the Grizzlies by 88) also produced historically lopsided series in this year’s first round.

Here’s every series in which a team’s combined point difference was at least 70:

image

Series Scores
2009 first round: DEN d. NOH, 4-1 113-84, 108-93, 93-95, 121-63, 107-86
2010 conference semifinals: ORL d. ATL, 4-0 114-71, 112-98, 105-75, 98-84
1986 first round: LAL d. SAS, 3-0 135-88, 122-94, 114-94
2016 first round: GSW d. HOU, 4-1 104-78, 115-106, 96-97, 121-94, 114-81
2016 first round: OKC d. DAL, 4-1 108-70, 84-85, 131-102, 119-108, 118-104
2001 conference finals: LAL d. SAS, 4-0 104-90, 88-81, 111-72, 111-82
2016 first round: SAS d. MEM, 4-0 106-74, 94-68, 96-87, 116-95
1971 conference semifinals: MIL d. SFW, 4-1 107-96, 104-90, 114-102, 104-106, 136-86
2008 first round: BOS d. ATL, 4-3 104-81, 96-77, 93-102, 92-97, 110-85, 100-103, 99-65
1987 first round: LAL d. DEN, 3-0 128-95, 139-127, 140-103
1989 conference semifinals: PHO d. GSW, 4-1 130-103, 122-127, 113-104, 135-99, 116-104
1948 semifinals: PHW d. STB, 4-3 58-60, 65-64, 84-56, 51-56, 62-69, 84-61, 85-46
2013 first round: SAS d. LAL, 4-0 91-79, 102-91, 120-89, 103-82
1978 conference semifinals: PHI d. NYK, 4-0 130-90, 119-100, 137-126, 112-107
2015 first round: CHI d. MIL, 4-2 103-91, 91-82, 113-106, 90-92, 88-94, 120-66
1980 conference semifinals: BOS d. HOU, 4-0 119-101, 95-75, 100-81, 138-121
2009 conference semifinals: CLE d. ATL, 4-0 99-72, 105-85, 97-82, 84-74
1984 conference semifinals: LAL d. DAL, 4-1 134-91, 117-101, 115-125, 122-115, 115-99
1973 conference finals: LAL d. GSW, 4-1 101-99, 104-93, 126-70, 109-117, 128-118
2014 NBA Finals: SAS d. MIA, 4-1 110-95, 96-98, 111-92, 107-86, 104-87
2012 first round: MIA d. NYK, 4-1 100-67, 104-94, 87-70, 87-89, 106-94
1996 conference semifinals: UTA d. SAS, 4-2 95-75, 77-88, 105-75, 101-86, 87-98, 108-81

The Grizzlies’ injuries obviously contributed to the Spurs’ success. San Antonio probably would’ve won the series regardless, but it’s far less likely three of the games would’ve been cakewalks. Perhaps, the Mavericks could’ve put up more of a fight against the Grizzlies with more Chandler Parsons, Deron Williams and J.J. Barea.

Of course, injury also affected the Warriors. Imagine how badly they would’ve beaten Houston if Stephen Curry were healthy the whole series.

In the end, the Rockets played like a team ready for vacation, and Golden State was good enough to take – big – advantage.

(This post was updated to include Oklahoma City’s win over Dallas.)