The Clippers get Blake Griffin back Sunday.
But not an entirely healthy, 100 percent Blake Griffin.
The Clippers’ star forward is a guy they will need in the playoffs if they are going to challenge Golden State in the second round. But while everyone was focused on his broken hand — suffered while punching a Clipper employee — and the four-game suspension that followed, his lower left quadriceps injury remains a real issue. He had sat out already for the thigh injury when the punch happened, but now months later it is the quad that is still a problem and not 100 percent. Here is what Griffin said Saturday, via Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.
“I don’t want to say ‘misdiagnosed’ but (it) wasn’t doing the right things, I guess,” Griffin said. “We weren’t addressing the initial problem, the main problem. Everything I was doing was just putting more stress on my knee. The small tear became a three-month thing because I wasn’t doing the right things until we figured it out.
“… It just wasn’t being allowed to heal. The tear is still there. It’s just about managing the pain and getting through this. It’s not a new tear. I wasn’t re-tearing my knee in different places. I wasn’t allowing the initial injury to completely heal.”
The tear, which is on the lower part of his left quad just above the kneecap, had been causing knee pain.
Doc Rivers said they are going to take it slow with Griffin’s return over the next seven games and manage his minutes. From the Clippers’ official site.
“You just have to watch,” Rivers said. “I don’t care if you’re healthy and 100 percent and you haven’t played, you’ve just got to be careful. You don’t want to throw a guy out there and him get injured because you’re overplaying him. So, we just have to be very careful….
“When you have an injury to your body, especially your lower body, it’s always a pain issue,” Rivers said. “Then what we’re going to have to find out from him is how many minutes creates more pain, or less. We’ll figure that all out.”
The Clippers are locked into the four seed in the West, having gone 30-15 without Griffin, but they struggled against elite teams without him. The four seed means either Portland or Memphis in the first round, then if the Clippers advance very likely Golden State in the second round.