BC-BKN--Pistons-Griffin Out,1st Ld-Writethru
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Detroit Pistons will rest star forward Blake Griffin for at least one game this week to keep him as fresh as possible for their final postseason push.
Griffin will sit out Monday’s game against the Cavaliers after scoring 25 points in 33 minutes in Sunday’s win over Toronto. Coach Dwane Casey doesn’t want to overload Griffin as the Pistons (36-33) fight to hang on to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
While the Pistons sit Griffin, the Cavs will be without forward Kevin Love, who is sidelined with a sore back. He took a hard fall in Saturday’s loss at Dallas.
Casey wants to avoid having Griffin play in back-to-back games. After facing the Cavs, the Pistons will play four more games on this trip. Detroit is at Phoenix on Thursday, followed by games at Portland on Saturday and at Golden State on Sunday.
“It’s prudent to do,” Casey said. “We’ll give him a couple days to get his juices back going for the final stretch. We feel like this will be good for him.”
The 30-year-old Griffin is averaging 24.7 points and 7.6 rebounds.
The Pistons were sixth in the Eastern Conference going into Monday, 1½ games ahead of Brooklyn and three on top of Miami.
“We’ve got a little bit of a cushion for the last three spots, so that was the determining factor,” Casey said. “This has not been mapped out in advance.”
Love has played in 12 games since returning from foot surgery, and Cleveland has gone 6-6 with the five-time All-Star in the lineup. Cavs coach Larry Drew said Love was still sore Monday and didn’t participate in the team’s morning shootaround.
Detroit routed Cleveland 129-93 on March 2 in the last meeting between the teams. Griffin scored 14 points while Love sat out because the Cavs were playing on back-to-back nights.
Casey maintained sitting out Griffin doesn’t mean the Pistons are taking the Cavs (17-53) lightly.
“No way we’re looking down on Cleveland,” he said. “You saw what they did to a healthy Toronto team and a healthy Orlando team. They spanked them both.”