The Boston Celtics’ blowout victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night provided the perfect reminder of just how effective Blake Griffin can be in the back half of his career.
With Al Horford and Jaylen Brown both sitting out the second night of a back-to-back, Griffin got the start for Boston and put on quite the show. The 33-year-old scored nine points and grabbed three rebounds in limited action, electrifying the crowd with a throwback dunk amid the route.
It’s not what he did on the court that has impressed Celtics brass, however. It’s everything else.
“I like Blake because he’s a great person. He’s been great for our team (both) on and off the court,” Mazzulla said on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “He plays hard. He’s super aggressive. And he’s a great teammate, so I thanked him for his professionalism and his work ethic to stay ready. It’s a long year and we’re going to need more of that this season — for sure.
“(He’s provided) perspective. (He’s) constantly in our young guys’ ear, just giving guys his experience, how his career has gone, where he was successful. And just a sense of humor, overall just a great guy. So guys flock to him, and he’s thankful for that.”
Griffin has arrived to the back half of his career, meaning the things Mazzulla highlighted have become much more important to team success than anything he does on the court. The six-time All Star averaged as many as 24.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in 2019 with the Detroit Pistons, but has seen each of those numbers dwindle as he’s become a back-of-the-bench piece for contending teams.
Since arriving to Boston just before the start of the season, Griffin’s been the Celtics’ top glue guy — a role he is more than comfortable playing.
“I’ve noticed it from the time I got here,” Griffin said on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “These guys really come in and work hard, and they’re very mature about it. We have a somewhat of a young team I guess, besides Al (Horford) and myself. Everyone’s focused on one thing, and it’s just fun to come to work and fun to play this way.”