These aren’t starters for this year’s NBA All-Star game, rather, it’s a list of star players who have missed critical games during the 2013 NBA Playoffs.
You can now add Russell Westbrook to that list. The fifth-year point guard was injured in the first half of Wednesday’s game against eighth-seeded Houston Rockets when he collided with guard Patrick Beverley.
Golden State Warriors forward David Lee also took a season-ender during the playoffs. Many prognosticators didn’t give the Warriors much of a chance in their Game 2 tilt with the Nuggets, but they managed to take control of the series with a big win on Friday night in the Bay Area. Whether or not Oklahoma City can have the same kind of success without one of its stars remains to be seen. They currently hold a 2-0 lead over the Houston Rockets who are dealing with injury concerns of their own, starting Point guard Jeremy Lin missed the entire second half of Wednesday’s game with a contusion in his chest. Lin is listed as ‘very likely’ for Saturday’s pivotal game 3 but will surely be watched closely by coach Kevin McHale.
These NBA playoffs more closely resemble an episode of The Walking Dead than a basketball tournament to crown the best team. From a casual fan’s perspective, it must be difficult to watch. The Lakers versus Spurs series in particular has a slew of injuries, from Steve Blake now out with a hamstring injury, Steve Nash receiving numerous epidurals in order to try to push through the pain of injuries that have nagged him all season to Jodie Meeks suffering a severely sprained left ankle in game 1.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the once-mighty Boston Celtics are in an 0-3 hole against the second-seeded New York Knicks. In consecutive games versus the Knicks, the C’s have set futility records for points in the second half of a playoff game, scoring 25 and 23 points respectively on Saturday and Tuesday. Their lack of offensive power and ball movement can largely be attributed to their star point guard Rajon Rondo being out since Jan. 27, 2013 after tearing his ACL in a game against the hated Miami Heat.
Not every team has completely fallen apart when their star has gone down, though, the Indiana Pacers shut down star guard Danny Granger for the year back in March and have flourished behind stellar play from the likes of second-year guard Paul George and fourth-year star center Roy Hibbert while finishing the season as the third seed in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers currently have a 2-0 lead over the Atlanta Hawks, a team seemingly destined for first-round elimination every year. The Chicago Bulls also seem to have found a way to manage injuries and win in spite of them. They ended Miami’s 27-game winning streak and are currently up 2-1 over the Brooklyn Nets. Rose has been cleared to resume playing basketball medically, but says he will not play in a game until he feels mentally ready, whenever that is.
The San Antonio Spurs are another team that has managed injuries as well as age remarkably. they finished the season as the Western Conference’s second seed and currently hold a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Los Angeles Lakers after holding serve at home. With Tony Parker still hobbling, though, many predict the Spurs will have a tougher time dealing with a more fast paced team such as the Clippers, Nuggets or Warriors.
Injuries can make things interesting, but the NBA is a star-driven league more than any of the other of the three major sports; without the likes of Bryant, Westbrook, Rondo and Rose. These NBA playoffs seem a little more than watered-down, and no matter who wins the NBA title this year and hoists the Larry O’Brien trophy, the fans will lose.
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