(AP) – Blake Griffin woke up Monday with his sprained left knee not feeling worse, but not really much better. Rest is the only remedy, a luxury the Los Angeles Clippers don’t have, and doctors guess he might miss two weeks if this were the regular season. Griffin says he will play in Game 1 tonight against the San Antonio Spurs.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is making no such guarantees. “I don’t know yet,” Del Negro said Monday. “I’ll make that decision tomorrow after shootaround, after I talk to the trainer.”
Griffin said there is “no doubt” about his availability for the start of the Western Conference semifinals, which start two days after the hobbled All-Star played fewer than two minutes in the fourth quarter of a Game 7 win at Memphis. His injury is the most worrisome for the banged-up Clippers: All-Star Chris Paul said Monday that his bothersome right hip is OK, and forward Caron Butler is expected to play despite his broken left hand.
Following a light shootaround and film session Monday, Griffin put his health between 75 percent and 80 percent. “Hopefully more than that, but realistically, probably about that,” he said. “But my knee hasn’t gotten worse. That’s the encouraging thing. It just needs time, and we haven’t had much of it.”
The Clippers flew straight to Texas from Memphis on Sunday night, leaving them little time to savor one of the biggest wins in the woeful 41-year history of the franchise. Never had the Clippers won a Game 7 before Sunday, and this marks only the third time they’ve advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
Then there are the Spurs. Few things about the No. 1 seed in the West could be more different than the Clippers, and not just in terms of franchise history. While the worn-out Clippers are facing their sixth game in 11 days, the Spurs haven’t played for eight days since sweeping Utah in the first round.
That the Spurs are not the most hobbled team in a playoff series is a refreshing change of pace for them. Winners of 14 in a row – one of the NBA’s six-longest winning streaks sustained in the playoffs since 1986 – the Spurs are not just well rested but also in unusually good health for this time of year.
KFWB’s Bob McCormick talks with Clippers play-by play announcer Ralph Lawler, who previews tonight’s Clippers game in San Antonio. Pregame is at 6:00 here on KFWB NEWS TALK 980. Click the play button to listen.