Detroit Pistons star forward Blake Griffin, who willed the team into the playoffs, could likely miss their first round series against the Milwaukee Bucks due to a left knee injury.
According to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, Griffin’s knee swelling if he returns during this series concerns the Pistons because that’s exactly what happened when he came back after a three-game absence in early April.
There is no structural damage in Griffin’s knee but it is unclear if he will need a minor procedure in the offseason.
Without Griffin, the Pistons suffered an embarrassing 121-86 loss in Game 1 last night. Luke Kennard led the Pistons with 21 points off the bench, making 4 of 5 3-pointers but the rest of the team didn’t show up. Andre Drummond had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Reggie Jackson added 12 points and five assists but no one else scored in double figures.
Pistons Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Bucks
*Notates expected starter
C: Andre Drummond*, Zaza Pachulia
PF: Thon Maker*, Jon Leuer
SF: Bruce Brown*, Langston Galloway
SG: Wayne Ellington*, Luke Kennard, Glenn Robinson III
PG: Reggie Jackson*, Ish Smith
Griffin not playing again in this series will open up Thon Maker for some extra minutes, though Andre Drummond will likely be the one getting extra offensive touches and the biggest boost from Griffin’s absence.
Maker got into foul trouble guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo last night and had a disappointing performance, scoring just four points on 2-for-10 shooting, including 0-for-6 from 3-point range in 22 minutes.
The third-year player averaged just 5.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15.2 minutes over 64 games with the Bucks and Pistons in the regular season and he has to really step up against his former team or this will be a short series.
The Bucks took Maker with the No. 10 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft but he hasn’t reached his full potential yet. Replacing someone like Griffin is hard but this is a great opportunity for Maker, he has to make the most of it and prove he can be a solid NBA player for years to come.
Blake Griffin missing this series gives the Pistons almost no chance of winning a game or two against the Bucks. The Pistons just don’t have enough firepower to keep up with a deep, talented Bucks team. The Greek Freak played just 23 minutes in Game 1 and the Bucks still crushed the Pistons.
Griffin averaged a career-high 24.5 points, along with 7.5 rebounds and a team-best 5.4 assists on 46.2 percent shooting and 36.2 percent from 3-point range in 35.0 minutes over 75 games this season, his most since 2013-14. He hasn’t played at least 80 regular season games since then.
He also led the Pistons with a 4.6 BPM (Box Plus/Minus) and a 4.4 VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). When Griffin’s was on the floor, the Pistons just played at a higher level, especially on offense.
The star forward also took on a heavier workload as his 30.9 percent usage rate was a career-high. This clearly took a toll on him and now his season is likely over.