Blake Griffin’s season is done, with the Clippers announcing their star big man will miss the rest of the playoffs with an injury to the plantar plate in his right big toe. It’s the second straight year that Griffin has suffered a season-ending injury in the postseason, and it comes in a playoff series that Los Angeles leads two to one against the Utah Jazz.
The injury happened in the second half of Game 3 on a seemingly innocuous drive to the rim where Griffin suffered minor contact. Here’s the play when he apparently hurt himself:
Blake Griffin left Game 3 with an apparent lower leg injury. Here’s the play he sustained the ailment: pic.twitter.com/NSDZ3vFujR
— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) April 22, 2017
Griffin appeared to know right away that the injury might be serious, slamming a chair on his way to the locker room:
— Tomer Azarly (@TomerAzarly) April 22, 2017
Last season, Griffin only played 35 games, missing time with a broken hand and a partially torn quad tendon. He reaggravated the quad in the postseason, forcing him to sit out and helping Portland knock off the wounded Clippers in six games.
Griffin bounced back this season, playing 61 games and only missing time after undergoing minor arthroscopic knee surgery around Christmas. But it’s the third straight season he has played fewer than 70 games, and the third straight for the Clippers to deal with injuries in the postseason.
What does this mean for the Clippers right now?
Los Angeles won Game 3 without Griffin the second half, and L.A. beat Utah in Game 2, as well. The Clippers are now up a game, and Utah is also dealing with injuries — Rudy Gobert went down early with a knee injury in Game 1 and hasn’t played since then.
However, Gobert is working on a game-to-game basis, and the Clippers may not have enough in them to scrape out two more wins without Griffin being available. If it happens, it’s going to take an incredible effort from Chris Paul, who had 34 points and 10 assists on Friday.
Even if Los Angeles can sneak past Utah, though, the Clippers have no chance of pulling off a magical upset against the Warriors. It was already something that was unlikely to happen, but losing one of their top two stars should end any ideas of that for good.
What does this mean for the Clippers going forward?
Griffin has an early termination option in his contract this summer, and after several disappointing postseason appearances, perhaps he’s ready to move on. A few days ago, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers talked about wanting to keep the team together no matter what happens, and he has a point: It’s hard to put together a roster that can consistently win 50-plus games and grab home-court advantage, especially in the Western Conference. But if roster fatigue has set in, perhaps Los Angeles just feels like it needs to mix something up.
If so, perhaps Griffin is the piece to leave.