How long is Blake Griffin out? The Los Angeles Clippers lost their star forward for the entire NBA Playoffs after Griffin left Game 3 versus the Utah Jazz with a big-toe injury.
Los Angeles went on a rally to defeat the Jazz on the road. The victory gave them a 2-1 series lead over Utah, but Los Angeles received devastating news 12 hours later.
Once again, Griffin would end the season prematurely due to an injury. He suffered an injury to the plantar plate of his right big-toe in the first half Friday and did not return to the game, according to ESPN.Griffin finished a layup with just under four minutes to go in the second quarter and he came down limping. The Clippers' forward seemed to know right away. He headed to the locker room immediately and he hit a chair in frustration before leaving the court.
Upon his return to Los Angeles, Griffin will receive another evaluation. He will see foot and ankle specialist Dr. Richard Ferkel, per Clippers.com.
According to NBC Sports, the plantar plate is a thick ligament that essentially keeps the toes in place. If it is torn, it can cause the toes to move around and drift. It is painful to walk, let alone jump and play basketball. Treatment depends on the tear in the plate.Last season, Griffin suffered a quad injury in Game 4 of the Clippers' first-round series versus the Portland Trailblazers. He played only 35 games in 2016 due to an injury to his hand and quad.
Griffin, 28, averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game this season. In the regular season, he missed 18 straight games after surgery on his right knee.
In fact, Griffin has only played more than 80 regular seasons games in three of his seven-year NBA career. Thus, the Clippers should know how to play without him.
Clippers guard Chris Paul scored a season-high 34 points in Friday's 111-106 victory in Utah. He also added seven rebounds and 10 assists. Ultimately, Paul said the team won't play through the post as much without Griffin. Paul added that it is a different feeling without Griffin's leadership on the court, per ESPN.
Veteran Marreese Speights should get the start with Griffin out. He played a majority of Griffin's time in Game 3. The stretch big man scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds on Friday. Brandon Bass could also get some run with Griffin out. Bass has not played in the playoffs, but that should change.
Further, L.A. may call on veteran Paul Pierce to play the power forward spot. Pierce is set to retire after this season but Los Angeles needs him to find his old scoring form.Otherwise, Griffin's latest injury seems like news that is far too familiar for Clippers' fans. There is a cursed history of the Clippers that includes their stars getting injured in the past three postseasons, per SB Nation. Moreover, the franchise's potential curse includes an exiled former owner and a series of other injuries and bad signings throughout their history.
Finally, Griffin's newest injury casts a huge question mark over the Clippers' future. Both Griffin and Paul can - and are expected to - opt out of the final years of their contracts. This would make both superstars free agents. L.A. can offer both guys the most money thanks to the new CBA. However, will either player want to stay? Will Clippers owner Steve Ballmer want to keep these guys together, especially after escalating trade rumors for Griffin over the past few seasons?
Head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers repeatedly said that he wants to keep this core together. Nonetheless, Rivers could also be on his way out of town due to underwhelming postseason success since he took over the organization's coaching and president duties.
Not to mention, J.J. Redick is also set to hit the open market thanks to an expiring contract. Hence, it remains to be seen what the Clippers will do with Blake Griffin out for the remainder of the NBA Playoffs.
Either way, the Clippers must deal with Griffin being out for the Utah Jazz series which continues Sunday at 6:00 p.m. PST. After their season concludes, then Los Angeles can deal with their uncertain offseason.
[Featured Image by Rick Bowmer/AP Images]