Positive injury news has been hard to come by for the Clippers this season, but it sounds as though they’re starting to finally get healthy. The team listed forwards Blake Griffin and Wesley Johnson as questionable to play in Friday night’s game against the Lakers.
Earlier this week, Doc Rivers sounded optimistic that Griffin could return from his knee injury before the end of December. Considering December ends this weekend, Griffin’s return appears imminent. He went down with a sprained MCL in his left knee after a collision with Lonzo Ball in the game against the Lakers back on November 27.
Griffin was originally slated to miss about eight weeks with the injury, but he’s reportedly progressed well ahead of schedule. The five-time All-Star practiced with the Agua Caliente Clippers of the G League on Wednesday alongside the likes of Sindarius Thornwell, C.J. Williams and Jamil Wilson.
Griffin was in the midst of another stellar individual season before getting hurt. The 28-year-old averaged 23.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists through the first 19 games of the season.
When asked on Thursday whether he’ll be good to play on Friday, Griffin told reporters, “I don’t know.” He has missed the last 14 games.
Johnson, meanwhile, has missed each of the last five games with a foot injury. Prior to going down, the 30-year-old journeyman had been thrust into a larger-than-expected role in light of the injury problems of Danilo Gallinari. Through 28 games, including 19 starts, Johnson is averaging 6.9 points and 3.4 rebounds.
Johnson played very well in November, but he has really struggled this month. He’s averaged less than five points in nearly 23 minutes per game in December as his shooting touch has left him completely. Wes has made just two of his 23 attempts from three-point range this month. That’s a conversion rate of about nine percent, which is...yikes.
Whenever Griffin and Johnson return, it’s safe to expect them both to be playing on some sort of minutes limit early on. The Clippers are short on bodies, but rushing Griffin back into a 35-minute role from the jump would be unnecessarily risky.
LAC will be looking to run their record to 3-0 on the season against their intracity rivals on Friday night. The Lakers will be without Lonzo Ball and Brook Lopez, while rookie Kyle Kuzma is questionable with a quad problem.