He got nailed by the refs so fast it made your head spin -#8212; not to mention his. He should have learned right away but he never learned. Listen to what he said Sunday morning after he had a night to reflect on his basketball sins. He began with the usual clich?. "We put ourselves in the hole. We need to fight, more so for ourselves than anything."
Whatever any of that means. Call it verbal throat clearing. The interview continued.
Someone asked what he thought about the refs calling the game so tight. "I didn't really anticipate the game being called like that," Griffin said.
Hold the phone, stop the presses, get Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper to discuss this in The Situation Room. Blake Griffin never thought the game would be called tight?
Everyone on Earth, including infants on formula, expected the refs to take control right away, to establish order, to insert tough love into the contest. Except Blake Griffin. He wandered onto the court without engaging in a moment of self-reflection.
He continued. "Obviously, they had guys in foul trouble. We had guys in foul trouble. It changes from game to game. The next game could be physical and not many fouls called. I just need to do a better job of reading my situation. You could kind of see the pattern of the game the first couple of fouls. You could see how the refs were calling the game."
That quote is a whopper. Before I get to it, please don't think I'm saying Griffin is stupid. He's smart. But he's not self-aware. Like when he said "I just need to do a better job of reading my situation."
He's been around. He should already know how to read a situation. David Lee does. (More on Lee in a moment.) Griffin admitted he could "see the pattern of the game," yet he did nothing to adjust to the pattern when it actually mattered. He ended up playing about 19 minutes, total. Lee, who also got two fouls in the first quarter and finished with four, played more than 35 minutes.
Part of the reason for this discrepancy is the coaches. Mark Jackson had confidence Lee would not foul out, but Doc Rivers had no such confidence in Griffin. Jackson left Lee on the floor. Rivers kept pointing Griffin to the bench.
One other Griffin quote is revealing. Asked if the refs took him out of his game, he said, "No, they call games tight in the regular season all the time. It's just a matter of adjusting to it. I don't think it really takes anybody out of their game."
It sure took Griffin out of his game. The morning after the game he got taken out of, he still didn't know what happened. Here is a thought that might help him. The refs called fouls on him they had not called before. This was a playoff game and this was a blood game, and Griffin needed to understand that. Or his coach needed to tell him.
Quick note on Andre Iguodala. Also a foul-outer on opening night. Perhaps a non-learner when it comes to the refs. Off the court, he's a high-intellect guy. There's a big difference between Griffin and Iguodala. Griffin is Griffin and that's a big deal. Iguodala is merely Iguodala, the fifth-best starter on the Warriors and a borderline disaster on offense. Got that?