According to Goodwill, the team is concerned that (as happened against Charlotte) Blake Griffin playing on the injured knee will cause it to swell up, limiting his effectiveness and increasing the risk of further traumatic injury. The report continues to state that there is no structural damage in his knee, and the team is unclear whether or not he will require surgery this offseason. It also offers some clarity into Blake’s postgame comments:
#Pistons Blake Griffin said returning from his knee injury is not a pain issue only...sounds more complicated than that, with a lot of people in on the decision to sit him.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) April 15, 2019
Previously, I speculated that the team was holding out Blake for Game 3, maximizing his rest to give them the best chance to win a single playoff game at home. This report throws this speculation into flux, and bodes poorly for the Pistons’ chances of breaking their decade-long winless streak in the playoffs.
Of course, without Blake in Game 1, the Pistons were massively outclassed, losing in a blowout that was never competitive. If Blake does miss the rest of the series, it would be a big disappointment for a team (and player) that worked hard over the course of the regular season to hit the goal of making noise in the playoffs. I can’t imagine how personally frustrating it must be for Blake to have his first mostly healthy regular season in five years derailed at the end.
We’ve seen story after story over the course of this season about how Blake, able to train in the offseason instead of rehabbing an injury, became a better version of himself. Entering the offseason with this injury (that sounds as if it’s trending towards “minor” surgery) means more time preparing his body to play instead of expanding his game. There’s little doubt that Blake will be back in October ready to go, but again, this has to be extremely disheartening for Blake.
For the Pistons as a whole, though, this only increases the imperative Ed Stefanski has this offseason to get Blake some assistance on the perimeter - another player that can capably shoulder some of the shot creation burden. The front office must work during the summer to build on the foundation of competence Blake played a large part in establishing this regular season.