The narrative on Blake Griffin for years has been about his ability to play above the rim and rebound the ball.
Well, his play thus far this season is forcing folks to expand their thoughts on his play in large part because of how he has expanded his overall game.
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The 6-foot-10 Griffin hasn’t just added the 3-point shot to this game.
Early this season, the 3 has been a foundational element to both Griffin's individual success and that of the Detroit Pistons (4-0), who come into tonight’s game against the Celtics as one of just four teams still undefeated this season.
Griffin leads the NBA in scoring at 33.8 points per game, aided heavily by the fact that he’s averaging just about four made 3’s (3.8) per game. He’s also averaging 11.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
“Man, he is playing like an MVP candidate,” the Celtics' Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin. “Just very impressed. Shooting the three-ball with a lot of confidence. Really playing off the dribble. Posting. He’s doing it all and he just looks like he’s settled down here. Last year I think it was probably tough for him with the transition in the middle of the year and all that. But now that he’s been here all summer and he’s healthy, he looks great.”
Kyrie Irving has been among the league’s top players and a year ago at this time, he and the Celtics got off to a strong start which led to there being talk of Irving as a league MVP candidate.
“Just letting him go; he’s playing without any restrictions or anything like that,” Irving said.
Irving also thinks the coaching change – Dwane Casey in, Stan Van Gundy out – has also aided in Blake’s strong start to the season.
“Dwane Casey has done a great job of letting Blake be Blake,” Irving said. “I’m pretty sure he came off the summer trying to improve things with his game and just playing free.”
With Aron Baynes (hamstring) out and Daniel Theis (foot) questionable for tonight’s game, even more of an onus will be put upon Horford to do a solid job defensively against Griffin.
Horford understands his ability to limit Griffin’s impact and make him work as a defender, will go far in determining whether Boston comes away with a win.
In both instances, Horford knows he can’t go it alone when dealing with Griffin.
“The way that we’re gonna have to play is we have to, first of all, play our game,” Horford said. “But with him, it’s, we all have to understand that it’s not just one guy guarding him. We have to make sure that we’re all connected and we’re helping whoever’s guarding him. And making sure that he’s getting contested shots every time.
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Horford added, “Because I think that a lot of people kinda let him shoot, give him open looks and he can shoot the ball. So, it’s one of those things that it’s all of our responsibilities to do a good job on him.”
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