Blake Griffin, Patrick Beverley react to Clippers’ loss of Milos Teodosic and upcoming challenge in Utah Jazz
The LA Clippers lost their European star point guard on Saturday night to a left foot injury that an MRI later revealed to be a plantar fascia injury. The injury would leave the Clippers without the guard for an indefinite amount of time as he tries to let the injury heal.
Unfortunately, if any player or any team is used to injury woes hitting them over the last couple of years, it’s Blake Griffin and the Clippers. After playing 375 of a possible 394 regular season games his first five years in the NBA, he’s participated in just 94 of a possible 164 regular season games the last two NBA seasons.
He’s come back looking stronger than ever, however, posting 29 points, 10 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game to start the season, but had to watch his teammate in Milos Teodosic go down on Saturday night against the Phoenix Suns.
“I talked to him Saturday night and saw him yesterday,” said Griffin. “He’ll be alright, he was in good spirits yesterday.
“At the very beginning of an injury, it always seems like you’re at the bottom of the hill looking up at everybody. A lot of the times, it can be somewhat of a blessing in disguise. It refocuses you, you can learn something about yourself, you learn a different way to train, to get your body back right or to take care of yourself better. As cliche as it sounds, you have to find something positive to take from that experience.”
Griffin has widely been known to be one of the Clippers’ most important playmakers, but the addition of Teodosic gave the Clippers another playmaker. With him now out, the focus shifts to not only Griffin’s playmaking, but the team’s as a whole.
“We’ll all have to share that load a little bit. You can’t really replace Milos or how he plays or how he passes, his vision. But we’ll find a way somehow.”
During the decision process of coming to the NBA after 14 years of professional basketball in Europe, Teodosic was recruited by new Clippers’ guard and former teammate Patrick Beverley. As teammates in Greece back in 2010, Beverley and Teodosic developed a good relationship, which makes this injury a bit harder on the reigning All NBA Defensive Team member.
“Oh man… It’s tough,” added Beverley. “It forces everyone else to make that extra pass and make that extra play for your teammates. There’s no secret about it, he’s the best playmaker we have on the team. A pass first guy, I enjoy playing with him, so losing him is real tough. From a teammate standpoint of course, but just as a friend. I know how hard he works, how hard he wanted to compete and wanted to prove himself at this level. As a friend, you want to see him being successful.
“At halftime after it happened, I was the first one back in the X ray room, making sure he’s okay. I’ve dealt with injuries before, and I understand in this league, it’s not easy. I just told him I’m here for him, I’ve been through injuries as well. After practice, I’m gonna go over to the crib with him and chill out. You need that support from your teammates. Losing him is real tough for us.”
Both Griffin and Beverley added that Teodosic was in good spirits following the loss, and they won’t have time to worry about the injury as they’ll have five games over the next nine days, including matchups against the Utah Jazz and Golden State Warriors.
“There’s nothing you can do about it. I always think about the player, wish he could play because he wants to play, but other than that, injuries are part of the game. You don’t want them, but you’re going to have them. And when you have them, you just have to keep going. This team is built for that. Of course we’re going to miss wat Milos does, but we’ve got a lot of guys [who can make up for it].
“It’s indefinite, it’s one of those injuries that’s going to take some time. We just have to make sure we manage it right because that’s really important for us.”
Tuesday night’s matchup against the Jazz will see the Clippers activate rookie Jawun Evans for the first time this season. In the preseason finale against the Lakers, Evans played against the Los Angeles’ key rotational players and wound up with 22 points, eight assists, four rebounds, and two steals in 42 minutes of action. With both Patrick Beverley and Austin Rivers coming off preseason injuries, the Clippers may very well give Evans significant time at the point guard position as well as rookie Sindarius Thornwell at the two guard.
Speaking of the Utah Jazz, the Clippers will look for a 3-0 start to their season in a rematch of last year’s first round playoff series. Blake Griffin helped the lead the Clippers into the postseason, but was unable to finish it after leaving in the first half of Game 3 and not returning for the series. Despite having different looks, Griffin does see similarities in the two teams from last year.
“It’s kind of a ‘new year, new team’ thing for both of us.
“I expect the same [physical] game. Quin Snyder’s a really good coach, they have a great coaching staff. They have a good roster with a lot of great players so I expect it to be pretty much the same. A little bit of a different look, but they’ve already shown that they’ve carried over this year just as much as last year.”
Beverley hasn’t been able to showcase his offensive talent over the last couple of seasons playing alongside the ball-dominant James Harden, but he certainly has a chance to do so here in Los Angeles. When it comes to the Jazz, one word was enough for Beverley to explain how his team hopes to beat them.
“Run run run run run run run run,” said Beverley before adding a little more detail. “We do have a challenge tomorrow. The team we play tomorrow likes to drain the whole clock out, likes to defend the half court, so we’ve got to put our will on them and that’s to get out and run as much as possible. For us to be successful, that’s what we’ve got to do tomorrow.”
The Clippers and Jazz take center stage tomorrow night at 7:30PM at Staples Center.