Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com
Clippers coach Doc Rivers is always very careful with what he says to reporters. You could say he practices diplomacy.
For example, after the Clippers won Wednesday 120-108 at Oklahoma City, Rivers was asked about the growth of his team without the injured Blake Griffin. Griffin has missed the past 14 games because of a staph infection in his right elbow. Several Clippers – most notably Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick and reserve Glen “Big Baby” Davis – have really picked up the slack in Griffin’s absence.
But Rivers did not go crazy about that with his response.
“Yeah, I guess. I mean, I don’t know,” he said. “We have had some tough games in the stretches that Blake has been out, and to win some of these games has been big for us, especially to win some on the road; those are huge wins for us.”
It’s almost as if Rivers either doesn’t want to jinx his team by saying just how well it has played without Griffin, or he doesn’t want Griffin or anyone else thinking that Griffin is not as important as he truly is to this team. Sure, he complimented his team, but seemed to temper his remarks.
The Clippers are 9-5 without Griffin. Six of the victories have come against teams that are either a virtual lock to make the playoffs or in the case of two victories over OKC, a team that likely will make the post-season but has more of a fight on its hands to get there.
Bottom line is, yes, the Clippers are doing very well sans Griffin. But they’ll never go that far in the post-season without him. There is no question about that.