Things have gone from bad to much, much worse for the Los Angeles Clippers. In wake of three consecutive losses to Eastern Conference foes and Chris Paul’s touchy remarks about a female official, the team announced today that Blake Griffin will undergo surgery to remove a staph infection in his shooting elbow
Though the Clippers didn’t specify a timeline for the All-Star’s return, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that Griffin will likely be sidelined anywhere from 4-6 weeks:
Los Angeles has three games remaining before the All-Star break. Assuming an optimistic month-long recovery, Griffin would miss 12 games during his team’s most difficult portion of the regular season schedule – 10 of LAC’s opponents over that stretch boast legitimate title aspirations.
And of course, the Clippers aren’t as well-suited to withstand such a significant loss as other long-standing elites. They absolutely crater offensively when Griffin goes to the bench, scoring nearly 14 points fewer per 100 possessions than when he’s on the floor. Considering the profiles of replacements Spencer Hawes and Glen Davis, too, it’s safe to assume the already inconsistent defense of Doc Rivers’ club will also take a hit.
There’s no point to sugarcoat something this obvious – Los Angeles is in trouble.
At 33-18, the Clippers are currently sixth in the West, six games up on the ninth-place New Orleans Pelicans and six and-a-half games above the Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s a sizable deficit for the Pellies and Thunder, but hardly one insurmountable considering their overall quality combined with Los Angeles’ daunting schedule and roster construction.
Is it really that hard to fathom the Clippers going 3-9 over their next 12 games? And what happens if Griffin’s absence is on the longer side as opposed to shorter?
At the very least, the San Antonio Spurs will certainly pass Los Angeles in the standings, and the Phoenix Suns – four and-a-half games behind Paul and company – might, too. And while dropping to eighth-place in the West and increasing the odds of another postseason meeting with the Golden State Warriors is hardly ideal for the Clippers, it’s certainly better than missing the playoffs altogether.
It’s not like Rivers has much time to make crucial adjustments, either – Los Angeles tips-off from Oklahoma City at 1:00 EST.
What do you think?
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