The topic says it all. All the teams in the NBA are now focusing more on fighting injuries, keeping their players fit rather than fighting than playoffs.
Yes! Injuries have been such a nightmare for the NBA playoffs since long. They have started an impact as early as Isiah Thomas’s ankle injury in 1989 that denied them the championship to the latest injuries of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving at Cleveland which stopped them at the final hurdle in 2015 losing to the Warriors.
This season, things have been worse. Los Angeles Clippers, which were clear to favourites to reach the conference semis had to be satisfied with the 3-4 lose to Portland Trail Blazers in the first round itself. Apart from CJ and Lillard’s offense, it was injuries to the Clippers’ big trio that led them to the loss. J.J. Reddick, the league’s best 3-pt% shooter with 47.5% went all low to 33.5% during post-season sustaining a strained right elbow. The loss of CP3 (fractured hand) who had single-handedly won them many games was a big blow. Adding to their grievances was Griffin (left quad tendon), who missed out 41 of the regular season games but came to play full potential in the final and the post-season games. These saw the complete shutdown of any hope leaving DeAndre Jordan, the only notable player left with Jamail Crawford, 2 time consecutive 6-th player of the year award winner to toil but in vain.
Injuries haven’t even ignored the defending champions, The Golden State Warriors have a big blow on 2 time consecutive MVP of the Season, Stephen Curry. After sitting out Games 2 and 3 against the Houston Rockets with an ankle injury, Curry returned for the Warriors in Game 4. He scored 6 points on 2/9 shooting but sprained his MCL slipping on a wet area of the court at the Toyota Center in the second quarter. Even without the MVP, the Warriors had a strong bench to step up in Shaun Livingston, Speights, Rush and Barbosa who put the warriors through game 4,5 of round 1 and 1st game of the Conf. Semis against the Trail Blazers.
For the Miami, the heat was on with injury to 6ft 11in 11 time all -star centre Chris Bosh missing games since February 9 and this has even ignited some retirement sparks for the big man in his 13th year in the NBA. But however, all thanks to Hassan Whiteside, Dragic and Deng for stepping up and delivering to assist Dwyane Wade in leading the Heat through to the conference semis past Charlotte Hornets, who missed Hansbrough’s service for the crucial game 7 due to a back injury.
The Memphis Grizzles also have a similar story. They saw a league-record 28 players dress during the regular season. Any realistic hopes of a lengthy postseason run vanished after they lost stalwarts Mike Conley (left Achilles tendinitis) and Marc Gasol (broken right foot) to injuries this year. They limped into the playoffs winning just 3 of their last 17 league games and then just continued their poor form to be swept away 4-0 by the second seeded, title favourites San Antonio Spurs in the first round itself.
So at a whole, there are just very few teams in the playoffs who are not suffering from any injury issues, but I’m sure the coach has the bothering within.
Injuries are a part and parcel of any sport and coming to basketball, they are too much a part. Especially during the playoffs, when the intensity is high and the game tries to get more and more physical, the frequency and vulnerability to get injured gets high. The aggression, the mentality to challenge and excel beyond blocks and forcing oneself through opponents stay the reasons for injuries in the playoffs.
The unanswered question still remains open….is over-aggression the reason for loss of playoff legacy in injuries?
What may the reasons be, we are surely missing the lob from Chris Paul that leads to the slam dunk by the Big Blake, Chris Bosh’s turnaround jump shot, Stephen Curry’s Buzzer beating Half-court 3s…..
We just want them back as fast as possible!