In Game 2 on Wednesday night, Griffin got tangled up with Steven Adams, the Thunder rookie center who has a growing reputation as an agitator. It was Griffin, however, who got the benefit of the doubt from officials each time the two got tangled.
Griffin’s actions went a long way in Adams being whistled for three fouls in 17 minutes. The most laughable came as Adams transitioned down the court and Griffin intentionally slowed up and allowed Adams to run into him.
But the Thunder might just have to play through the small stuff for the rest of the series.
Griffin is simply doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s searching for any advantage he can against the Thunder. He’s using trivial tactics to get inside his defender’s head. And, to this point, it’s worked. Thunder players have been taken to task by the officials while Griffin walks away without consequence.
It’s been Griffin’s most effective strategy.
Oklahoma City has done an exceptional job to this point of limiting Griffin. In these first two games, he’s averaged 19 points on just 41.4 percent shooting, along with 5.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 0.5 blocks. Each of those figures is well below what the second runner-up for MVP averaged in the regular season. Those statistics also don’t come close to Griffin’s production in the Clippers’ opening-round series against Golden State.
In Game 2, Griffin finished with a mere 15 points on 13 shots. His ineffectiveness became a leading reason this series shifts to Los Angeles deadlocked at one game apiece as opposed to the Clippers owning a commanding 2-0 lead.
Griffins’s antics might be annoying. But the Thunder will gladly live with them if that’s the best he’s got to offer in this series.