Life without Blake Griffin starts with Game 4

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first_imgSALT LAKE CITY >> The news that the Clippers will be without Blake Griffin for the rest of the postseason rattled an organization that hoped to make one more shot at a deep run before Griffin and Chris Paul potentially explore free agency this summer.But Paul does not care to hear any speculation that this latest setback in any way alters what the Clippers are playing for.Long though the odds might seem, they are still in pursuit of an NBA championship.“It don’t change that,” Paul said. “No. Listen, this is not good. It’s not the best thing that could have ever happened to us. But it’s not the end of the world. We still are going to go out there. We know we got a job to do. We got a big game (Sunday), Game 4, and we go out there expecting to win.” That will certainly be a taller order without Griffin than had he avoided suffering a season-ending injury in the playoffs for the second straight season. The Clippers managed to sneak by the Jazz without Griffin for a 111-106 victory in Game 3, but were just 11-10 without him in the regular season.Griffin’s absence means Marreese Speights, Paul Pierce, Wesley Johnson and Brandon Bass will likely all take on increased roles.“It has to be by committee,” Paul said. “Blake is too much to our team, offensively and defensively. … We play through him. So it’s going to be by committee. We don’t have one person over there that we can be like, ‘Oh, Blake’s out. Put him in.’”Speights will likely see the biggest jump in minutes. The veteran forward said it would not affect the way he prepared for Game 4.“I prepare every game the same way,” he said. “Even if it’s 15 to 20 minutes I’m going to prepare the same, coming in with the right mindset and the right focus.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Coach Doc Rivers said he did not try to sugarcoat the news of Griffin’s injury when he spoke to the team after Friday’s game, while Griffin underwent an MRI that confirmed the team’s worst fears.“There’s no cushioning it,” Rivers said. “I’m pretty direct. I told them last night, ‘Blake’s out.’ You know, next man up. That’s basically the lingo we talk in. That’s the fact. We’ll be ready.”Rivers spoke with confidence molded from experience. The Clippers have endured injuries this season to Griffin, Paul and Austin Rivers, who is unlikely to play until after Game 5, Doc Rivers said.“Obviously, we need Blake, we want Blake,” Doc Rivers said. “But he’s not going to play. And we know that. So we’ve got to get guys ready for the next game. That’s a huge game. That’s a huge game for us, and them, obviously.”Gobert upgradedAs if the Clippers did not have enough adjustments to worry about on their own end, they have to prepare for the possibility that Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who has not played since injuring his knee in the first minute of Game 1, could return to action for Game 4.The Jazz upgraded the NBA Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner to “doubtful,” after listing him as “out” for each of the last two games.“He’s working hard and trying to get back,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said following his team’s practice on Saturday.Are the Jazz necessarily counting on Gobert’s return?“I don’t know, Snyder said. “That’s hasn’t been the plan. … They (team doctors) are looking at him every day.”last_img

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