Clippers star Blake Griffin, who has missed the last month with a quadriceps injury, broke his right hand in a fight with an equipment staff member and he has been suspended for four games without pay.
Griffin was traveling with the team during their recent Eastern Conference road swing and it was assumed that he was going to return soon; unfortunately, he got into an argument with a member of the team’s equipment staff, and his return date will be pushed back a bit.
Allegedly, Griffin injured his right hand when hitting a member of the team's equipment staff during an argument in Toronto after Sunday's 112-94 loss against the Raptors. The altercation started in a restaurant and then proceeded outside where Griffin hit the team's assistant equipment manager multiple times.
The hand injury (unrelated to the torn quadriceps muscle that has sidelined Griffin for a month) is expected to keep him out from 4-6 weeks.
Griffin leads the Clippers with 23.2 points per game, he also averages 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists, but the Clippers, who visit the Pacers tonight, have gone 11-3 in 14 games without Griffin.
This setback could allow the Thunder to run away with the third seed in the Western Conference, as they're already four games ahead of the Clippers, who are currently three games ahead of the Grizzlies in the Western Conference standings.
This means that the Clippers will likely play the Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, so keep that in mind before placing your NBA picks once the regular season ends and keep an eye on any NBA odds movement from now until Griffin's return (the Clippers are currently at +2300 to win the NBA Championship at 5Dimes).
The Clippers have played well without Griffin, but only against teams they’re supposed to beat, and even with plenty of time before the playoffs, the timing of this injury is unfortunate.
The Clippers said that "this incident does not represent who we are as a team" and the NBA has suspended Griffin for four games without pay. The Clippers will not pay him an additional game because he broke his shooting hand and a team spokesman said that Griffin's suspension will begin once he is cleared to play and active.
Assuming he comes back in the mid-point of five weeks, the suspension means that Griffin might not be with the team in time to play in some of their key contests, like their two meetings with the Thunder, as well as their games against the Hawks, Mavericks, Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, Grizzlies, Knicks and Cavaliers.