According to ESPN-Los Angeles, Clippers' forward Blake Griffin is expected to play in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the San Antonio Spurs despite a sprained left knee.

However, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro is making no such guarantees.

"I don't know yet," Del Negro said Monday. "I'll make that decision tomorrow after shootaround, after I talk to the trainer."

Griffin doesn't think that conversation will be necessary.

Griffin said there is "no doubt" about his availability for the start of the semifinal round, which start two days after the hobbled All-Star played fewer than two minutes in the fourth quarter of a Game 7 win at Memphis.

His injury is the most worrisome for the banged-up Clippers: All-Star Chris Paul said Monday that his bothersome right hip is OK, and forward Caron Butler is expected to play despite his broken left hand.

Following a light shootaround and film session Monday, Griffin put his health between 75 percent and 80 percent.

"Hopefully more than that, but realistically, probably about that," he said. "But my knee hasn't gotten worse. That's the encouraging thing. It just needs time, and we haven't had much of it."

San Antonio won two of three meetings with the Clippers this season, their only loss coming when Parker sat out with a sore thigh. That was March 9; the Spurs have lost only three more times since then, and once was when coach Gregg Popovich didn't play Parker, Ginobili and Tim Duncan so his stars could rest.

By Monday afternoon, the Clippers were so starved for rest that Griffin was talking about the Game 7 afternoon start almost as though it were a blessing, because it gave them another precious half-day to recover.

"Going through a seven-game series is definitely exhausting," Griffin said. "We may have some guys that are a little beat-up. That's how it is. But a lot of teams have that, and we can't use that as an excuse."

Regardless on who plays, expect the Spurs to be ready against the Clippers as their semifinal series begins Tuesday night at the AT&T Center.

(Photo via NBA.com)