Once again, the Clippers — and Blake Griffin in particular — have been hit by the injury bug come the playoffs.
Griffin had to leave Game 3 of the Clippers/Jazz series with a toe injury. Saturday, the Clippers announced Griffin is out for the remainder of the playoffs with an injury to the plantar plate of his right big toe. He will see a specialist when the Clippers return to Los Angeles, and from there a course of treatment will be determined, the team announced.
The plantar plate is a thick ligament that connects the toes to the rest of the foot. This ligament essentially keeps the toes in place, if it is torn the toes can move around and drift. It is incredibly painful to walk on as well, which obviously rules out running, leaping, and playing basketball. Treatment depends on the tear in the plate, but it can involve surgery.
The injury appeared to happen with just under four minutes to go in the second quarter. Griffin made a steal and pushed the ball down the court himself, finishing a layup past Rodney Hood. After Griffin landed, he was instantly limping. Griffin’s reaction when the injury happened — slamming a chair and reportedly saying “it is worse than it looks” — suggest he knew it was bad when it happened.
Last season the Clippers lost to Portland in the first round to Portland when Griffin suffered a quad injury then Chris Paul suffered a hand injury that sidelined the duo.
Los Angeles went on to win Game 3 Friday night behind a dominant second half from Chris Paul. The Clippers leaned heavily on the Paul/DeAndre Jordan pick-and-roll to create offense, and without Rudy Gobert — the Utah center is sidelined with a knee injury suffered in Game 1 — the Jazz were unable to slow it.
However, the Griffin injury makes it seemingly inevitable that the Clippers will not be making a deep playoff run. They have been hit by a string of bad luck in the playoffs for years, they’re a team that just can’t seem to catch a break. Last summer the Clippers spent a lot of money to bring their medical injury prevention efforts up to state-of-the-art. But luck still plays a big factor and that can’t be bought.
This injury and playoff exit will lead to some tough questions for Los Angeles this summer. Griffin, Paul, and Jordan have been together for six seasons and, if they fall in this round or the next this year, will have never made it out of the second round. Griffin and Paul can — and are expected to — opt out of the final year of their contracts this summer and become free agents, and J.J. Redick will hit the open market as well. How much is owner Steve Ballmer willing to pay to keep these guys together? Should they keep them together or break it up and try something else? There’s a lot of soul searching coming to L.A. this summer.