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Blake Griffin, Doc Rivers excited to start season, not worried about outside noise

The 2016-17 NBA regular season tips off today, but the L.A. Clippers don’t start their season until Thursday night when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers in a rematch of last year’ first round playoff series. Head Coach Doc Rivers doesn’t mind the extra days off to start, and thinks his team is ready for the 82-game grind.

“I think so,” said Rivers of the Clippers’ preparedness both mentally and physically. “I mean you don’t know, obviously, until you start. But from everything I’ve seen, all indicators say yeah we’re ready. We got two more good days of practice, which will be great. If I had my druthers, I’d rather start today.”

Coming into this season, many have put a make-or-break label on the Clippers’ 2016-17 season. During Tuesday’s media session, Blake Griffin shared his own thoughts on the Clippers upcoming season and why he’s not thinking past this season to a very big summer in 2017.

“We’re really not worried about what happens after this season. We’re worried about what happens this season. If it takes somebody being like, ‘Oh, this is going to be the last year,’ to have a sense of urgency, then you’re kind of already playing from behind.”

Without Griffin for most of last season, the Clippers still found a way to win 53 games behind Paul and DeAndre Jordan. Some began to wonder if the Clippers even needed Griffin because the offense was running so smoothly and the shooting didn’t cool down.

“I don’t know. I don’t know if they do or if they don’t,” said Griffin about critics forgetting that he was injured last year despite the Clippers successful regular season record.

“It’s not really my concern. My biggest concern was getting healthy this summer and getting ready to go this year.”

It’s not hard to see that Griffin was close to, if not, 100% back in his five preseason appearances. In just 23.1 minutes per game over those five games, Griffin put up solid averages of 16.2 points, 5.6 rebounds 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals on 55% from the field and 33% on three-pointers.

After this season, sharpshooter J.J. Redick will be a free agent, and Griffin as well as Chris Paul can opt out of the final year of their respective deals to become free agents as well. All three would be unrestricted free agents, and if the Clippers fail to at least advance to the Western Conference Finals, many say it’s just time to blow it up and move in a different direction.

However, before we get to the postseason and free agency, there’s still six months of intriguing basketball to play, and anything can happen between now and then. One thing is sure: the Clippers, led by their workhorses in Griffin and Paul, are ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

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