Injuries Loom As Teams Make Playoff Push

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Oklahoma City, Memphis and Miami, feel fortunate, very fortunate, and proceed with caution.

As the regular season churns down to a handful of games over these final 16 days, the three teams above are the only ones of the 16 current playoff teams, plus the desperately-trying-to-get-in Los Angeles Lakers, currently unaffected by injury — or injuries.

Playoff seeding, and ultimately playoff series, could tilt on an injury report that seems to grow with each passing game.

The Grizzlies caught a break with the quick return of center Marc Gasol from an abdomen injury. Initially the team listed him as out “indefinitely.” Later, Gasol said he’d be back for the playoffs. Next thing you know he’s back after missing just two games and right back on his game.

The Heat missed Dwyane Wade for a couple games during their win streak and, of course, he, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers came down with those, ahem, previously unreported injuries prior to Sunday’s game at San Antonio. Speaking of the Spurs, Manu Ginobili‘s most recent ill-timed injury (hamstring) has put the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed firmly in play Thursday night when San Antonio visits a Thunder team as healthy as any can be 70-something games in.

Few are so fortunate, and let’s start with the carousel of injuries that have beset the Lakers. Kobe Bryant continues to play through a sprained ankle and whatever else, Dwight Howard still deals with the sporadic shooting pain from the torn labrum in his shoulder and Pau Gasol is finally back. But Metta World Peace (knee) won’t be back and Steve Nash (hip) is “doubtful” for tonight’s big showdown against the never-say-die Dallas Mavericks (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT).

The Lakers won’t receive sympathy cards from Denver, which could be without spark plug point guard Ty Lawson (heel) until the playoffs. As soon as Chauncey Billups (groin) finally returned he was gone again, and couldn’t the sinking Clippers use him right about now?

Houston’s All-Star James Harden can’t seem to shake a sprained right ankle. Jazz reserve big man Enes Kanter (shoulder), whose March was his biggest month of the season, is out indefinitely. Golden State is essentially healthy, having lost Brandon Rush way back in the opening days of the season.

Over in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls shake their heads at any team ruffled by a single injury, or two. The Celtics, having adjusted to life without Rajon Rondo, plus rookie Jared Sullinger are without Kevin Garnett (ankle) and Paul Pierce missed Monday’s loss at Minnesota for “personal reasons,” according to coach Doc Rivers. Meanwhile, Boston is dangerously close to slipping into eighth place and a first-round matchup against the Heat.

In the Big Apple, the injury list goes on and on: Tyson Chandler (neck) remains wait-and-see, Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) and Kurt Thomas (foot), very likely could join Rasheed Wallace (foot) as being shut down for the season. The Knicks, busting through it all with an eight-game win streak, continue to battle for the No. 2 seed with the Indiana Pacers, who have five straight and learned last week that Danny Granger (knee) won’t be making the late-season comeback they had expected just days earlier.

And those scrappy, scrappy Bulls by now must be resigned to a full season without Derrick Rose (knee), and they may have lost Rip Hamilton (back) for the season. They hope to soon get center Joakim Noah (foot) back in uniform, as well as Marco Belinelli (abdomen).

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets, finally with Deron Williams healthy and playing like an All-Star again, would love to say the same about Joe Johnson (heel).

As the playoffs quickly approach, time is running short for players and teams to get healthy.

17 Comments

  1. tanibanana says:

    I am also doubting LBJ’s injury,
    But on the other end, why risk your team chemistry out of a fake injury
    if you could just let him play and give him 18-24 minutes of play a game.

    • Run says:

      I agree, if the guy is exhausted fine, but lets not make up BS injury ( and yes I said BS due to the fact Bron has had his share of injuries and acted like they were nothing but hiccups to him, so). I give Greg Pop credit, at least he had balls to admit that he rested his guys because of fatigue. Look, the world knows Lebron is a freak of nature, he’s practically indestructible when it comes injuries, play him with shorter minutes or come clean about his status. WE KNOW HE’S NOT HURT, LET ALONE INJURED.

  2. Danny says:

    HEAT PLAYERS D WADE AND L. JAMES WHY DO THE REFs LET THEM GET AWAY WITH WALKING SO MUCH? JAMES IS A FIVE STEP PLAYER D.WADE 4 BET THEY HAVE WALKED EACH 100 MILES THIS SEASON?

    • Danny says:

      COMMENTS ABOUT WADE AND JAMES ALWAYS PUT ON SHELF!!

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      “Danny”

      Why do I get the feeling you’re John Schuhmann? Didn’t you also comment in the past under the guise/alias of “Patty”?

      Typing everything in uppr-case like that??
      :-)

  3. @ sleeplessbull-Keep talking trash about my Celtics-we’ll see come playoffs! It’s the heat don’t want any of the Celts come playoffs, especially 1st round-NUFF SAID!
    CELTICS-HORAAH-UBUNTU!!!

  4. Play on Boston-Play on! With or with out any main players-Celts got what it takes so GO GET IT!
    CELTICS-HORAAH-UBUNTU!!!

  5. Lee says:

    As Shumpert, Rubio, Adrian Peterson, any ACL injured athlete will tell you, you gotta play to get better. Get Derrick Rose in, but bring him off the bench until he’s feeling it a little better. He’s never gonna be 100% if he never plays.

    But this article also reminds of the playoff teams that could have been. This picture would be a lot different with healthy Philly, Minnesota, Dallas, and LAL squads.

  6. Run says:

    Okay, we all need to STOP giving the Lakers excuses already, I’m really not expecting anything from them this season (that includes the playoffs, which is if they make it). If a team wants to sit out their players (key players or not), I have no problems with them doing that. Already have enough injuries as it is, why risk it. The Bulls star D.Rose, every time I hear this subject I don’t know whether to laugh at it or be sick about it, honestly they still doing really well w/out him, not enough to convince me championship, but a great show indeed. Knicks, I’m still concerned, not that they’re an older roster, IT’S JUST TOO MANY INJURIES WITH THIS TEAM. The Clips make me want to laugh, no dis but Chauncey is not the solution, the hunger and effort for being the best team would be the key. Instead, lets relax knowing we’re about to make history on two counts (if possible). The Pacers and Nets, I’m not too worried about, if anything, I strongly believe if not 1 but both teams will make a lot of noise come playoff, REASON = DEPTH. Maybe both won’t reach the finals, but I believe they will give the opponents a run for their money.

  7. GangstaP says:

    Those injuries by Miami are fake. Everyone needs to give up on Derrick Rose.

  8. ko0kiE says:

    “The Heat missed Dwyane Wade for a couple games during their win streak and, of course, he, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers came down with those, ahem, previously unreported injuries prior to Sunday’s game at San Antonio.”

    Just because you, Mr. Caplan, don’t know how to do you job (researching should be a huge part of it, shouldn’t it?) it does not mean those injuries were unreported prior to the game..

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      ko0kiE, who gives a truck??

      Didn’t those 3 Heat players miss the entire game at San Antonio?

      ‘Nuff said.

      Plus, Lebron stated he just wanted extra rest to get his “body right” for the playoffs. He’s not injured. I don’t know about Wade or Chalmers … but Lebron James is not hurt at all.

  9. zgillet says:

    This league is just too damn old and soft.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      Not the Thunder.

      Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant have played every single game this season, for example. And they will play in OKC’s final 8 games … and then will play in every playoff game they happen to be eligible for.

      Plus, they log in tons of minutes-per-game, probably ranking among NBA League Leaders. These guys are athletic juggernauts and should lead the Thunder to a Finals repeat.

      Yes, it helps to be so young … but they also put in the work, all year-round.

      The NBA’s future is in excellent hands. With players like these, the Thunder will be the standard for durability for a long, long time. The Thunder will be the most entertaining NBA team for a long time. They will give fans around the world their “money’s worth.” Sitting out games hurts game quality; you don’t have to worry about that sort of thing when it comes to the OKC Thunder!!!!

  10. lesson learned says:

    yeah that how the Celtics always reason out if the came to close to play off.. The other teams also are making excuses so that their starters can rest longer for the Playoff… I repeat Celtics have been doing that on the past years that is why They cam Strong on the Play off.. Strategy of Garnet and Reivers..