No one really wanted to see a shortened and condensed 2012 NBA Season.
Well, the Charlotte Bobcats are probably glad after the fact, because the the fact that this wasn’t a full 82-game season may be the only thing that keeps them from going down as the worst NBA team of all time.
But most fans and players outside Charlotte would have preferred a full schedule with players getting full rest in between games. After all, the compact schedule seems to have really taken a physical toll on players. There have been a disturbing number of injuries to big-name players late in the season, which could seriously alter the outcome of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. In fact, the question this year may not be so much, “which team’s superstars will shine?” but “which team’s superstars will actually play?”
So today, let’s take a look at 9 injuries that may have serious impacts on which team takes home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The Atlanta Hawks have been without Al Horford (who had 15.3 PPG last season) for most of the season. He suffered a torn pectoral muscle back on January 11 and had surgery on January 17. The Hawks, who still have Joe Johnson and Josh Smith with their 18.8 PPG, have obviously done well without him. But if they could get past the Celtics and then get Horford back for Round 2 (which is the earliest the team says he could return), they could be pretty dangerous in the East—specially given the major injuries suffered by other top teams.
9. Al Horford
They say Kobe has responded well to new coach Mike Brown and is playing a more team-first game these days. But still, everyone knows the Lakers’ chances live and die with #24. If he’s healthy, they always have a chance. If he’s not, they’re toast. So Kobe’s little shin problem is cause for concern in Laker Country.
What is this “shin problem”? The technical term is tenosynovitis. It’s the inflammation of the sheath that covers tendons in the shin, and it causes pain in the foot and ankle. Kobe sat out a few gams a couple weeks ago and came back as his normal, dominant self. But “inflammatory” issues don’t go away easily and can flair up at any time. So if this one does, it could make of break the Lakers season.
8. Kobe Bryant
Yes, the Lin-sanity had cooled off quite a bit when Jeremy Lin went down with a knee injury back on March 23. But even though the guy wasn’t dominating games like he was for a 10-game stretch back in February, Lin was still a huge contributor. In March, he was still throwing in a 20-point game here and there while averaging 14.6 PPG. And at the end of the season he was still the Knicks assists leader. So while the whole “Lin-sanity” thing may have been a bit overblown, the fact is that the Knicks really could use him against the far more talented Heat.
Word is that Lin might be able to make it back from his meniscus tear (i.e., knee injury) for Game 4. But of course, that may be too late.
7. Jeremy Lin
Yes, Miami’s big three all played in the playoff opener against the Knicks—and they dominated. But all three have missed games to injury (or fatigue) late in the season, and there are big questions as to how they’ll hold up. This is especially true of Wade, who’s been somewhat injury prone throughout his career and has played only 49 of 66 games this season. If his knee (or the rest of him) doesn’t hold up, can LeBron carry the Heat to a championship all by himself? (No offense to Chris Bosh—who missed 3 straight games last week—but we all know the hierarchy in Miami.)
6. LeBron, Bosh & D-Wade
The LA Clippers were the talk of the NBA before the season began, as they ended up winners in that whole Chris Paul trade debacle. (Nice work, David Stern.) Then they made good on all the hype by going 40-26 and securing the 5th seed in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, the Clippers hopes in the postseason depend on the precarious health of two of their biggest stars: Caron Butler and Chris Paul.
Paul has been dealing with a groin strain of late, which is never much fun. He did manage to star in his team’s thrilling come-from-behind victory against the Grizzlies yesterday (they were down 21 points at the after 3 quarters), but who knows if his groin really is fully healed.
5. Chris Paul
More problematic than Paul’s groin is Caron Butler’s hand. The Clippers’ small forward (who won an NBA Championship last year with Dallas) broke a bone in his hand on Sunday against the Grizzlies. He’s listed as “day-to-day,” but he’s really more likely to miss a month. That means starting duties will likely fall on Kenyon Martin or Reggie Evans...yikes. Now the health of Chris Paul is even more crucial. So good luck, Clippers. You’re going to need it.
4. Caron Butler
Ray Allen is classified as “day-to-day” right now, but he missed Game 1 of Boston’s series against the Hawks. And man did they miss him. I mean, do you know how many points the Celtics got from their bench in Game 1?
If you said 4 points, you would be correct.
Yeah, the Celtics don't really have a deep roster, so they really need Ray Allen just to get past a very tough Atlanta team, let alone to make a deep run.
Problem is, Allen is suffering from bone spurs in his right ankle. Those things don’t go away on their own, so the issue is whether Allen can find a way to play through the pain until he can have them removed after the season.
3. Ray Allen
It was a pretty tumultuous season for Dwight Howard. First he wanted the Orlando Magic to trade him. Then he didn’t. Then he asked the team to fire Stan Van Gundy. Or didn’t. Then he suffered back spasms at the end of March and beginning of April. Then those spasms turned into a herniated disc in his lower back that required surgery and knocked him out for the rest of the season.
That’s when Orlando went from a legit contender to a team with absolutely no chance of winning a championship (though they may very well make it to the second round).
2. Dwight Howard
Surely you’ve heard by now that 2010-11 NBA MVP Derrick Rose suffered a season-ending ACL tear on Saturday during the Bulls’ first playoff game against the 76ers.
Obviously, this is terrible news for Chicago. Sure, they did very well without Rose for most of this season. Rose played only 39 of 66 games, but the Bulls still finished with a record of 50-16—1st in the East and tied with the Spurs for best record in the NBA.
The playoffs are different, however. The Bulls have a deep roster with lots of solid contributors, and they are the best defensive basketball in the NBA. But it’s really hard to see how they can compete against the Miami Heat without their one true superstar in the lineup. So I’m guessing this is going to be another great season down the drain for Chicago.
1. Derrick Rose
derrick rose, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade, injuries, jeremy lin, NBA Playoffs,