Blake Griffin set to make debut as Nets take on Wizards

Blake Griffin is lined up to make his Brooklyn debut when the Nets host the Washington Wizards on Sunday, as the newly acquired forward has been listed as probable after being out for his first five games with the team.

“Very excited,” said Griffin after Sunday morning’s shootaround. “I didn’t get a great night’s sleep last night. That’s probably my best indication that I was excited. Played so many games and they all feel the same, but just coming here, new environment, new team and the excitement got to me a little bit, but I’ll be ready.”

Griffin last played while with Detroit on Feb. 12. He signed with the Nets during the All-Star break on March 8 and took part in his first practice with the team two days later.

“When I first got here I had sort of an evaluation with our performance staff,” said Griffin. “I hadn’t played in basically four weeks by the time I got here, so their plan was just to sort of spend some time with our training conditioning staff, with our performance staff, and make sure I was in as good a shape as possible to put myself in the right position before I return to play. I played some one-on-one, some two-on-two, three-on-three, lot of running, so I feel a lot more confident than I did two weeks ago not having played in a month.”

Griffin fortifies a Brooklyn frontcourt that has gotten deeper with the return of multiple players over the last few weeks. He’s been with the team through five games, giving him time to observe and pick up where he fits in to the Nets’ schemes.

“That’s sort of been how I've been watching the games, just sort of seeing where I fit in here or there, offensively and defensively,” said Griffin. “But when you play with players as dynamic as we have, they sort of make life easier. So I’ll definitely sort of pick my spots here and there, but you also kinda have to see how it plays out to me and how we look on the court, so I have an idea but obviously things can change.”

Griffin has career averages of 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game with five All-NBA selections, the most recent in 2018-19. Both Griffin and Kevin Durant — currently out with a hamstring strain — traveled with the Nets on their two-game road trip and Nets head coach Steve Nash said on Wednesday that Durant “can do an awful lot, almost everything.”

“I am super excited,” said Kyrie Irving of getting both Griffin and Durant back in the lineup. “You know, it's just high-level talent out there. So, when you can just prepare for the game and go over the X's and O's, you can look to your left and right and know the guys next to you have your back and you're able to play at a high level offensively and defensively and make an impact, you've got to look forward to that. I look forward to it for sure. And as a competitor wanting to be on the main stage, we want all our guys healthy. Hopefully we can hit a stride at the right time and make a run, but this is great practice ground right now to just get as healthy as we can before step into the playoffs soon, very soon.”

IRVING’S SEASON HIGH

Kyrie Irving’s season-high 43 points against Orlando on Friday accounted for his 10th 30-point game of the season. Irving now has six 40-point games as a Net, the third-most in franchise history behind Vince Carter (17) and John Williamson (8).

Over the last two games, Irving has shot 32-for-51 (62.7 percent) while scoring 77 points. Irving leads the NBA in offensive rating (121.3) and is ninth in points per game (28.1), scoring at a career-high rate. He’s shooting a career-high 52.5 percent from the field and also 41.3 percent from 3-point range.

ABOUT THE WIZARDS

The Wizards are 15-25 and in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. They had lost five straight before beating Utah, which holds the league’s best record, on Thursday. Bradley Beal had 43 points in the win and Russell Westbrook scored 35. Beal leads the NBA with 32.5 points per game and averages 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists. Westbrook is second in the league with 10.2 assists per game, leads Washington with 9.6 rebounds per game, and averages 21.8 points per game. The Wizards will be without Davis Bertans, who is out with a calf injury. Washington won both of its previous meetings against Brooklyn — 123-122 on Jan. 3 and 149-146 on Jan. 31. Washington is sixth in the league with 115.2 points per game, due in part to leading the league in pace (105.13) as the Wizards are 21st in offensive efficiency (109.4). They are also 27th in defensive rating (113.9).