Blake Griffin was officially ruled out for the remained of the playoffs with a big toe injury:
Griffin’s injury is huge on so many levels. Alongside Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, Griffin has elevated his game to borderline “Superstar” level. He is a physically dominant force for the Clippers that is arguably unmatched in all the NBA. However, with Griffin out with yet another playoff ending injury, this could have a profound effect on the entire NBA.
Lets start with these playoffs. While Griffin was not the “star” in the Clippers series with Utah so far, he was the difference maker that could help them advance. Yes, Chris Paul is their best player, but with his size, and Utah’s size at the point, Utah could slow him down by committee. The Jazz however hadn’t proven that they had an answer for Griffin when he is rolling. Along with his strength, his athleticism gave Utah fits and he was the difference between advancing or getting bounced out in the first round. While Griffin’s injury surely changes things in this series, the Clipper still has enough to advance when you look at Paul and Jordan. They won the following game after losing Blake, to go up 2-1 in the series. It is the second round thats widely in doubt.
Going into this season, LA was seen as one of the only teams that could “test” Golden State and ultimately spoil their hopes to make it to a third straight finals. For those that believed that, it was solely because of Griffin. While Golden State would have their fits with Paul and Jordan, Griffins ability to put the ball on the ground and get fouled was something that the Warriors would have major problems with. Now that Griffin is gone, it is almost impossible to envision a scenario were the Clippers advance past the second round, adding to the Clippers playoff ineptitude.
With Griffin headed into free agency, this injury poses a lot of questions for both he and the Clippers. For starters, Griffin is a top three power forward in the NBA, when healthy. The problem is however, he has had a hard time avoiding the “when healthy” part. Dating back to 2013, Griffin has been injured and has missed at least 10 games every season or playoffs. This would be the second consecutive year Griffin would miss the remainder of the playoffs due to a lower body injury (injured knee last season.) With an injury resume like Griffin’s, will the Clippers be willing to throw him a max contract? If not, how much would another team give a player that they know is likely to miss games due to injury in crucial moments of the season?
Griffin’s injury is one of those unfortunate fates that seemingly continuously finds him and the Clippers. Will Griffin come back next season healthy and ready to play? Most likely yes, but for how long? Looking at Griffin’s injury history, it is impossible to tell.
Yes, a big toe might seem like a small injury to a player with the physically attributes Griffin has, but is has a huge impact on his future moving forward.