Blake Griffin impressed with Celtics’ maturity, ready to play whatever role team needs him to fill

BOSTON  — Blake Griffin had a great seat to see the kind of team that the Celtics became last year. He felt Boston’s full wrath as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, whom the Celtics swept in the first round of the playoffs.

Griffin, 33, officially became a member of the Celtics on Monday, as the team announced its one-year pact with the 12-year veteran. He was a late addition for a team coming off a trip to the NBA Finals, and a team that was in desperate need of some big man help after losing starting center Robert Williams for the first few months of the 2022-23 season.

The last we saw of Griffin, he was getting consistently hunted down by Jaylen Brown with relative ease in the first round. But the Celtics have welcomed him with open arms since he arrived on Sunday, something he doesn’t see much around the NBA.

But what really drove Griffin to Boston was the C’s young core of Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart, a trio that showed off an incredible level of maturity throughout last year’s second-half turnaround.

“They are extremely disciplined. We played the Celtics in the first round two years ago and they were banged up, but they took a big step as far as maturation and just how seriously they took the game. Not that they didn’t before, but to be the really good team that they are and they were last year, they took some big steps,” he said Monday at the Auerbach Center in Brighton. “They didn’t seem to care how they got it done, they just got it done. They were willing to out-run, out-hustle you, and when a team with this much talent has that mentality, that makes them really tough.”

Griffin said this isn’t the kind of opportunity a player would pass up. He even noted that he played against current Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla when the two were in college at the same time.

Griffin is now ready to play whatever role his new team needs him to fill. He said that he is prepared for a heavy workload in place of Williams — if that’s how the Celtics want to play the situation — but he’s also ready to be a stabilizing presence off the bench. 

“Whatever they need,” he said. “If Al [Horford] needs a break, if Rob needs a break — total utility. I didn’t come here demanding a certain type of role. It’s just to fill the gaps and help this team win a championship.”

Griffin struggled down the stretch last season and has always battled injuries during his career, but he’s hoping for big things while in Boston. He shouldn’t have to do too much heavy lifting when Williams returns, but he’s ready to help whatever way he can.

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