LOS ANGELES — Doc Rivers hinted Tuesday night Clippers forward Blake Griffin could return from a sprain of his left medial collateral ligament much sooner than initially expected, potentially by the weekend.
“Will he play tonight? No,” Rivers started. “Will he play the next game? He actually could. He’s that close. I didn’t say he would. I said he actually could.”
Griffin took part in the team shoot-around prior to the 122-95 win at home over Sacramento. According to the report, Griffin worked out with assistant coach Sam Cassell, focusing mainly on pick-and-roll drills and mid-range jumpers.
“I just know his work ethic has to have something to do with it,” Rivers added. “He gets a lot of heat for getting injured, but no one gives him credit for getting healthy. He works his butt off like no one I’ve ever seen.”
The team’s initial timetable for his return was eight weeks, having last played on Nov. 27 in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to the injury, Griffin was averaging 23.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.
“I haven’t seen him do a lot of live stuff, just one-on-ones, so I think that’s good to see,” Austin Rivers said. “It’s always encouraging to see some guys who haven’t been able to play get back out there.”