Blake Griffin will make his season debut for the Detroit Pistons on Monday.
The All-Star power forward missed the first 10 games this season due to a sore left hamstring and posterior left knee soreness. Griffin was cleared for all basketball-related activities on Thursday.
“I’m playing tomorrow,” he said after Sunday’s practice.
Griffin will have a minutes restriction in the home game against Minnesota, though it’s uncertain how much he can play. That will be determined by the medical, training and coaching staffs.
“Before the game, I’ll know,” he said. “I’ll put that in my mind and do what I can in those minutes.”
Griffin averaged 35 minutes a game last season, but it will be awhile before the coaching staff allows him to return to his normal workload.
“I’m going to be forced to be eased into it,” he said. “Probably don’t know what to expect, sort of going in with an open mind. I don’t know if I’ve ever been on this type of restriction before.”
Griffin carried the Pistons into the playoffs last season while averaging 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists over 75 games.
The offense revolved around him, and he eventually wore down and required knee surgery after the season. He doesn’t believe he’ll be relied upon to score as much this season due to the improvement of Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown and the additions of Tony Snell, Markieff Morris and Derrick Rose.
“It’s my job to fit in to all that and help make these guys better,” Griffin said. “Each season is different. Last season, I felt I had to take on more of a scoring role. This year, we have guys who are primed to score a little bit more in a variety of different ways. I don’t see that being as big of a role for me this year as it is facilitating and picking and choosing times (to score) down the stretch.”
Rose has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury, but he practiced Sunday and is also close to returning.
Minnesota lost 100-98 in overtime to Denver on Sunday despite a frantic push late in regulation. The Timberwolves were plagued by poor shooting, as they went 6-for-45 on 3-point attempts.
The Wolves rallied from a 16-point deficit in the final seven minutes of regulation.
“A lot of in-and-outs, a lot of great looks that we had,” forward Robert Covington told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Definitely it felt (like) there was a lid (on the basket). That’s part of what happened, what allowed us not to come out with this win.”
The Timberwolves have lost three of their last four games.
“It’s disappointing,” coach Ryan Saunders said to the Star Tribune. “I always say I’m going to take positives from the game, even losses. … We said with about six minutes left, ‘We’re going to make one push here.’ These guys came back. They fought.”
The Pistons won both meetings last year, edging the Timberwolves 129-123 in overtime at Minnesota and thumping them 131-114 in Detroit.
Griffin led the way in the first game with 34 points and eight rebounds, while Andre Drummond stood out in the rematch with 31 points and 15 rebounds. Minnesota’s star player, Karl-Anthony Towns, was limited to an average of 20 points and six rebounds in those contests.
–Field Level Media
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