On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Clippers confirmed that forward Blake Griffin would miss the remainder of the postseason due to a quad injury, while point guard Chris Paul would be out at least four to six weeks after undergoing surgery on his broken hand.
Losing Griffin and Paul, in effect, ends the Clippers' hopes of winning a title in 2016.
The Clippers would need to be playing in the NBA Finals for Paul to have any chance of returning, and with arguably their two best players out, the Clippers would genuinely shock the world if they managed to even advance to the Western Conference Finals, let alone the NBA Finals. As a franchise, the Clippers have never advanced past the second round.
Both Griffin and Paul suffered their injuries during Monday night's loss in Portland. During the third quarter, Paul broke his hand after it got caught in an opponent's jersey. The player displayed frustration over the injury on the sidelines before walking to the locker room and not returning to the bench. Eventually, Paul would leave the game with his hand in a cast and his arm in a sling.
On Tuesday morning, the 30-year-old point guard underwent surgery on his right hand. For all intents and purposes, Paul is out for the remainder of the postseason, even if his official status states that he will be reevaluated in four to six weeks. Paul is widely considered the Clippers' best player, and the point guard averaged 23.8 points and 7.8 assist over the first four games of the series.
Late in the third quarter of the same game, Griffin re-aggravated his left quad, an injury that sidelined him for a lengthy stretch of the season. Griffin missed 41 games due to the injury and felt the tweak late in the third quarter. The forward went to the sidelines and attempted to play through the pain in the fourth quarter, but the extent of his injury became apparent immediately after he entered the contest. The 27-year-old came out shortly thereafter and watched his team lose the game from the bench.
The Clippers will likely look to Austin Rivers to take Paul's place, while Jeff Green and Paul Pierce expect to play bigger minutes. Jamal Crawford will be asked to carry even more of an offensive load off the bench. Considering they hold home court advantage in the first round series, the Clippers may still have enough in the tank to advance past the Portland Trail Blazers. The series is tied at 2-2 going into Wednesday's Game Five at Staples Center.
Even if the Clippers get past Portland, the Golden State Warriors (even without Stephen Curry) would likely provide too tall a hurdle to overcome without Paul and Griffin available.
For the Clippers, either of these injuries could have ended their championship hopes. Both these injuries, though, again bring about talk of a Clippers' curse.