Dwane Casey defends Griffin's 180 from Pistons to Nets


It's not Blake Griffin's numbers, which are pretty much the same this season between Detroit and Brooklyn. It's the dunks. It's those high-flying slams we never saw -- not once! -- in his final act with the Pistons. Since maneuvering his way out of town to sign with the Nets, Griffin has turned back the clock.

You've probably heard about it on Twitter. After Griffin hung 18 points on the Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis and threw down a pair of vintage jams in Game 2, the jokes wrote themselves.

Griffin's 180 makes for great content. And the idea that he played the Pistons and saved himself for the Nets is juicy. But Dwane Casey, who coached Griffin for three seasons in Detroit including Blake's 2018-19 All-Star campaign when he carried the Pistons to the playoffs, wants to set the record straight.

The only thing that held Griffin back this year with the Pistons was a knee that had undergone two surgeries in a span of nine months and wasn't quite ready for the start of the season.

"In all fairness to Blake coming off his surgery, we weren’t expecting to play the season in December," Casey said Wednesday on the Stoney & Jansen Show. "He came back early after his surgery from the previous (year) and the knee wasn’t strong enough to where it should be. Now it’s coming around and it’s probably been close to a full year to get that strength back to get the ability to jump and dunk the way he did.

"So that’s in fairness to Blake. Everybody's talking about how he didn’t dunk here and that type of thing. Coming back from surgery he wasn’t going to be able to do that."

Griffin said something similar last month when asked about his 'dunk hiatus' in an interview with GQ.

"I just couldn’t ever get my legs back under me from our training camp, and the fast start to the season. Also, you kind of get more opportunities when you're playing with (the Nets), because of how good these guys are. That’s no shade to anybody on Detroit, but we were a much different team. We were a very young team. The court’s not spaced the same. And my role was different. There’s a lot of factors."

In a smaller role with the Nets, where Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden attract the attention of the defense, Griffin's found more opportunities to spread his wings.

"He’s playing the role that they need him to in Brooklyn," said Casey. "A guy that does a lot of the dirty work and doing some scoring for them now, too. My hat's off to Blake, he put the work in. He’s in a situation that’s beneficial, that fits him, the minutes he’s getting, all those things are playing out for him right now and I’m happy for him."

Other highlight's from Casey's interview on 97.1 The Ticket:

On finding the right player in next month's draft: (GM)Troy Weaver is one of the best at talent evaluation. He can look at certain players and see what fits and see who’s the most talented player out there. He has that gift. We’re excited. It’s going to be a big decision for our organization to get it right. ... Whoever we get, we’re going to get a good player to go with the young guys that we have."

On the offseason focus for Killian Hayes: "The No. 1 thing with him is getting his mojo back. I thought once he went down with his injury he lost a little bit of his confidence, and I see that now in his shooting. Trying to get more balanced with his shooting, trying to get a smoother, quicker release, which he had prior coming into the NBA. Just getting that back, that’s the main thing. ... The young man has great vision in the half court and full court, an excellent passer. Once he gets used to the quickness and the length of the NBA, that’s truly going to help. But one thing is getting his balance and his smooth release down, and that’s his true charge this summer."