The Los Angeles Clippers got off to such a blistering start to the season that they had as all wondering – perhaps fool-heartedly – whether this was finally their year to break through and at least make the conference finals. But injuries have once again threatened to torpedo their season. Blake Griffin has missed the past 18 games with a knee injury, and Chris Paul is set to miss at least 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. Sharpshooter J.J. Redick has also battled hamstring issues in recent weeks.
Given their precarious position, it was highly possible that L.A. would plummet all the way to the seventh or eighth seed while they awaited Griffin’s return, or out of the playoff picture entirely. Yet just like last year when their All-Star forward missed a significant stretch of the season, the Clippers have managed to do more than just tread water. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games and currently hold the fourth spot in the Western Conference standings.
Now, it appears Griffin will make his return against the Sixers in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
But will that be enough to salvage any title aspirations they still might harbor? On the one hand, it’s obviously better to battle injuries now, at the midway point of the season, rather than in the playoffs like they did last year when they lost both Griffin and Paul in their opening round match-up against the Blazers.