Blake Griffin Injury Update: Los Angeles Clippers Forward Cleared To Practice, Could Return Just Before Playoffs

Blake Griffin just received some good injury news, with an update from Doc Rivers that the Los Angeles Clippers forward has been cleared to practice for the first time since his injury on Christmas Day.

A report from ESPN claimed that Griffin’s hand and quad have recovered enough to allow him into a limited practice. Blake Griffin will reportedly be able to run what was described as a “low contact practice.”

Griffin has missed 41 games this season after hurting his quad and breaking his hand in an off-court fight with the team’s equipment manager. The hand has since healed, CBS Sports reported, but his quad has kept him out for much longer.

But it may not all be good news for Blake Griffin, even with the positive injury update. He will still have to serve a four-game suspension for his altercation with the team’s equipment manager. That means that if he is activated on Sunday, Blake Griffin would return with seven games remaining before the playoffs.

Doc Rivers still wouldn’t commit to moving Griffin back to the active list just yet, however.

“I don’t know yet. We’ll see. I doubt it, but I will see,” Rivers said Saturday (via ESPN). “I don’t know if one practice is enough to — I think we got to activate him when we think he’s ready to play.

“We just got to watch [Griffin]. If we go long today [at practice], which I don’t think we will — we will with some guys, but not that much — and he goes through the whole one and looks great, then that’s obviously something that we would have to think about. I don’t see that. I don’t think he’s going to do enough for us to feel comfortable yet. But I’m not sure yet.

“It’s not about the rust, though. You’re going to have rust because you’re not playing basketball. It’s more just movement. He’s moving much better.”

Blake Griffin has been averaging 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists this year, and would give a major boost to the Clippers if he could return. The team has been doing well enough without him, going 27-14 since his injury and currently occupying the No. 4 spot in the West.

Many believe the Clippers won’t rely too heavily on Blake Griffin when he does finally return from injury. In his absence, guard Chris Paul has taken the team on his back and it could mean Griffin taking a different role that would limit his touches and allow the offense to continue running through Paul.

Paul is assisting on 43 percent of the team’s baskets when he is on the floor, SB Nation noted, and while Griffin is out that number is up to 52 percent.

Paul’s game is also lifting up his teammates, SB Nation added.

“He’s the one shot creator the team has in a starting unit filled with finishers. As good as J.J. Redick and DeAndre Jordan have been on offense in Griffin’s absence, they couldn’t play their games without Paul setting them. During the post-Griffin stretch, Paul has assisted 59 percent of Redick’s makes (139 of 237) and 46 percent of Jordan field goals (87 of 189). The latter is an impressive number considering Jordan gets unassisted buckets mostly from offensive rebounds, often off Paul’s own misses.

“Between the points he scores directly and the ones he creates through assists, Paul has been responsible for 47 of the Clippers’ 104 points per game. He’s done it while remaining efficient and avoiding turnovers. The numbers aren’t hollow either, as Los Angeles has gone 26-13 in that time and they have been 16 points better per 100 possessions when Paul plays as opposed to when he’s on the bench.”

But in order to compete in the playoffs with the likes of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers will likely need a dominant Chris Paul and a fully healthy Blake Griffin.

[Picture by Harry How/Getty Images]