Clippers Host Thunder in Game 3: Blake Griffin's Time To Shine

After two below-average games, Blake Griffin is due for a breakout performance heading into Game 3 between the Clippers and the Thunder

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers takes a shot against Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 7, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

    Excuse me, has anyone seen Blake Griffin?

    For a guy who finished third in MVP voting, Griffin has not even been the third best player in the Western Conference Semifinals series involving the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

    In the first two games of the series, Griffin has simply not factored into any of the results, as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have all overshadowed the Clippers’ superstar forward.

    Sure, in the Clippers’ Game 1 victory, Griffin finished with 23 points in 31 minutes, but that game was dominated by Chris Paul’s inspired performance. Paul led the team to victory in the series opener with a nearly flawless shooting performance and a convincing reminder that he is the best decision-making point guard in the NBA.

    Even in Game 2, Paul was the catalyst for the Clippers’ first and second half comebacks that ultimately fell short.

    Along with Paul, both of the Thunder’s stars, Westbrook and Durant, have outplayed Griffin entering Game 3. Durant is averaging 28.5 points, 8.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds in the series. The newly crowned league MVP is averaging a stellar 29.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in the playoffs and has topped the 30-point mark in three of his last four games.

    Incidentally, Oklahoma City has won all three of those games.

    Griffin has not even recorded three 30-point games in the entire 2014 NBA Playoffs, and the last time he hit that 30-point marker was way back in Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors--back in the days before Clippers owner Donald Sterling came out with an audio tape that topped Billboard's Hot 100 charts.

    It was a simpler time.

    Back to the present, Westbrook is averaging 30.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in the first two games of the series, which is comparable to Durant’s superstar level of play.

    Whereas Westbrook and Durant elevated their play from Game 1 to Game 2, Griffin further dipped with a 15-point, six-rebound and two-assist performance in the Clippers’ loss on Wednesday.

    Against the Thunder, Griffin is averaging 19.0 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. His season averages of 21.4 points and 10.1 rebounds would be welcomed with applause in Friday’s Game 3, but a breakout MVP-caliber performance would be far more celebrated by the home crowd that has watched Griffin grow into an elite player.

    This season, Griffin carried the Clippers and was the team’s most valuable player. A strong performance in Game 3 would serve as a reminder that the Clippers have a dynamic duo that can be just as explosive as the Thunder’s highly touted tag team tandem.

    Entering Friday’s Game 3, Paul, Westbrook and Durant have all already turned up. Now, it’s time for Griffin to make his presence felt.