This is not the way anyone envisioned the playoffs going for Blake Griffin.
After an impressive regular season, his performance in Game 1 of the Los Angeles Clippers’ NBA playoff series against Golden State was marked by fouls, ineffectiveness and an ugly moment in which he doused a fan with water. Griffin fouled out with 48 seconds left in a tie game the Clippers went on to lose. The significance of Griffin’s absence was noted by his teammate, Chris Paul.
“It was tough; it was huge,” Paul said of Griffin’s limited presence. “Blake is our go-to guy, contrary to what people might think. We play through BG. As you can see, he’s tough to guard. When he only plays 19 minutes, that’s tough.”
As he watched a replay of the sixth foul that would prematurely end his 18th playoff game, Griffin, who scored 16 points, threw up his hands in frustration — while he was holding a cup of water. Splish, splash, Warriors fan Will Meldman was taking a bath.
“I heard [Meldman] say something,” Griffin told reporters. “I didn’t know exactly what I did. [The cup] wasn’t full. … I took my mouthpiece out and I picked up the cup. If I did [spill on him], I apologize.”
The fan took a “no harm, no foul” approach to the incident and, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reported, he kept the cup and a towel the Clippers gave him. “Honestly, I think it fell out of his hand,” Meldman said (via Yahoo). “He fouled out and he was frustrated, so it just fell out of his hand. It just slipped out. It may or may not be on purpose.”
At least Griffin wasn’t suspended, as he was for the regular-season finale (because of his 16th technical). Game 2 is tonight and he’ll try not to let his teammates down. From the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke:
Everyone stood, it seemed, but Griffin, who spent most of the game on the bench biting a towel. It is not a place where MVP candidates spend big moments. It is not how team leaders lead. Yet it was exactly the spot where critics have claimed that Griffin always seems to end up in the spring.
This season it was supposed to be different. This season Griffin took the huge step toward becoming one of the league’s elite players. Or did he?
“When our guy only plays 19 minutes, it’s tough,” Chris Paul said. “I kept telling B, ‘I need you, I need you.’”