Blake Griffin found himself shooting some wide-open shots during the Boston Celtics‘ 106-99 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers and he wasn’t scared to pull the trigger.
Filling in as a starter in the frontcourt, Griffin scored a season-high 15 points in the victory, going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. He thinks being wide open was by design and was happy to make his ex-head coach and current Sixers skipper Doc Rivers pay for the disrespectful move.
“When a team leaves you open like that, you’ve got to try to make them pay,” Griffin said. “(I was) shooting open shots all night, so it was nice to see some of them go through.”
With Al Horford and Robert Williams out, Griffin provided a different look for the Celtics. But the Sixers failed to adjust and Griffin — who has been known more for his explosive dunks than his shooting in his career — capitalized.
“I don’t really take it as disrespect,” Griffin said. “It hurt them. That was their game plan. Obviously, Doc makes that game plan. They didn’t adjust, which has been sort of a thing. No disrespect, though.”
Rivers did not mention Griffin by name but acknowledged that it was part of the game plan to give up some “dare” shots.
“I could have made some of those threes. Well, maybe not me. I was a poor shooter. Someone in this room could have made those threes,” Rivers said. “They were pretty much wide open. We gave a lot of ‘dare’ shots tonight all the way through the game — a lot of shots were we just dared guys to shoot them. And they shot them and they made them. Give them credit; you’ve still got to make them, and they did.”
Rivers Completemented Griffin for Role Player Conversion
Rivers and Griffin have some history, combining forces with the Clippers from 2013-18. The last few years have not been kind to Griffin, who went from one of the league’s brightest stars to a sparingly-used role player. The Celtics are Griffin’s third team in four years and he’s playing on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.
Earlier this season, Rivers commended Griffin for putting his ego aside and learning to adapt.
“It’s unusual that a star like him is willing to turn himself into a role player,” Rivers said in October. “It’s very difficult for most players to do that. Most can’t, they just can’t, and he’s done that.”
“When I went to LA, I realized his passing (game). We started playing him at the elbow more and utilize him as one of our passers.”
Celtics Get Rough Injury News on Jaylen Brown
The victory against the Sixers also came with some bad news for the Celtics, with All-Star guard Jaylen Brown suffering a facial fracture after getting hit with an accidental stray elbow.
It’s uncertain how much time Brown could be out through the All-Star Game, which is on February 19.
Brown is averaging 26.5 points and seven rebounds a game this season but the Celtics have done a solid job overcoming injuries this season — the victory against the Sixers serving as evidence of that. At 39-16, the Celtics currently have the best record in the NBA.