Sprained knees. Strained hamstrings. Twisted ankles. Shattered hopes.
The N.B.A. playoffs have was a battle of attrition because the league grapples with a rising record of accidents to lots of its greatest stars. No much less an eminence than LeBron James, whose Los Angeles Lakers made a hasty first-round exit after his All-Star teammate Anthony Davis injured his knee (after which his groin), weighed in on Wednesday, blaming the league’s compressed schedule. Regular-season video games started in December after an abridged low season.
“They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season,” James wrote on Twitter. “I knew exactly what would happen.”
It is value noting that the league and its gamers’ union agreed on the schedule.
But accidents have been a downside for many N.B.A. groups even earlier than the beginning of the playoffs — the Denver Nuggets, for instance, have been left with out Jamal Murray, their place to begin guard, when he sustained a season-ending knee damage in April — and a contemporary batch of accidents within the postseason has solely amplified the difficulty. In reality, with two-plus playoff rounds remaining, the N.B.A. has already set an ignominious file: eight All-Stars (and counting, maybe) have missed no less than one postseason sport.
Here is a have a look at these gamers, and the way their accidents and absences have affected their groups:
Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
Injury: Leonard was big for the Clippers on Monday in Game Four of their Western Conference semifinal sequence towards the Utah Jazz, ending with 31 factors and seven rebounds in a win that evened the best-of-seven sequence at two video games apiece. But the Clippers’ victory proved pricey: Leonard sprained his proper knee.
Impact: Leonard was anticipated to overlook Game 5 on Wednesday evening, and the Clippers didn’t supply a timetable for his return. One of the highest two-way gamers within the league, Leonard is important to the Clippers’ championship hopes. There can be a sense of urgency for the franchise, which has by no means made a convention closing and had been banking on the star-studded pairing of Leonard and Paul George to assist ship its first title: Leonard can choose for free company after the season. Another playoff disappointment might determine in his determination. The Clippers would favor that they not have to seek out out.
Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
Injury: After serving to the Lakers win it all last season, Davis stumbled by means of the 2020-21 common season, lacking about two months with a calf pressure. It solely received worse for him within the Lakers’ first-round sequence with the Phoenix Suns, as he injured his knee and his groin.
Impact: Despite spraining his left knee in Game three towards the Suns, Davis performed by means of ache to deliver a win. But he strained his groin in Game 4, then missed Game 5. He limped by means of the early levels of Game 6 earlier than heading to the locker room in ache, and the Lakers lost the game and the series with out him. The Lakers had hoped to mount a stronger title protection. Davis blamed himself. “We just couldn’t stay healthy,” he stated. “A lot of that is on me.
James Harden, Brooklyn Nets
Injury: It took less than a minute for Harden, holding his hamstring, to leave Game 1 of the Nets’ second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks. Harden missed the next three games before making a last-second decision to play in Game 5 Tuesday night. Strain to the same hamstring caused Harden to miss most of the last month of the regular season.
Impact: The Nets’ top three stars — Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — played only eight games together during the regular season. Harden is one of the most productive scorers in N.B.A. history, and he was largely ineffective in his return on Tuesday night in Brooklyn, with just 5 points and one made field goal. Without Harden’s shooting and playmaking ability, and combined with the loss of Irving, the Nets’ path to a championship becomes much more difficult. Harden is, however, expected to play in Game 6 on Thursday in Milwaukee.
Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets
Injury: During the second quarter of Game 4 against the Bucks, Irving sprained his right ankle when he landed on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s right foot after a layup. He is out indefinitely.
Impact: Losing just Irving, given the Nets’ depth, probably would be a storm the team could weather. But his loss combined with Harden’s problematic hamstring, makes the Nets much more vulnerable. It puts pressure on Durant to produce historic numbers like he did in Game 5 against the Bucks (49 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists). But even without Irving, the Nets, as they showed Tuesday night, may be deep enough to get by without him if role players like Jeff Green continue to show up.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Injury: Sidelined with a left knee bone bruise for a couple of weeks during the regular season, Embiid sustained a small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee in the 76ers’ first-round series with the Washington Wizards.
Impact: Despite the apparent severity of his injury, Embiid has been out only once — Game 5 against the Wizards, which the 76ers won to close the series. He was terrific at the start of their conference semifinal series with the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 35.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game as the 76ers took a 2-1 series lead.
He struggled, though, in a Game 4 loss, shooting 4 of 20 from the field, including 0 for 12 in the second half. He acknowledged afterward that his knee was bothering him. “As far as being 100 percent, I don’t think that’s going to happen until the year is actually over,” Embiid informed reporters. “I just got to go out and manage it.”
Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
Injury: Mitchell missed the final 16 regular-season video games and Utah’s playoff opener towards the Memphis Grizzlies due to a sprained proper ankle.
Impact: The Jazz misplaced their first playoff sport towards Memphis with out Mitchell. After Mitchell returned for Game 2, the Jazz dominated the sequence. Mitchell averaged 28.5 factors and 5.eight assists in 4 video games on 45 % capturing. In Utah’s second-round match up towards the Clippers, Mitchell has been much more dominant, with 37.three factors a sport on 46.eight % capturing by means of the primary 4 video games.
Mike Conley, Utah Jazz
Injury: Conley has not performed in Utah’s semifinal sequence towards the Clippers due to a proper hamstring pressure. He additionally missed 20 video games in the course of the common season due to accidents or relaxation associated to that hamstring.
Impact: Conley, when wholesome, is the place to begin guard for the Jazz. On a group that typically is simply too reliant on Mitchell to make performs, Conley is one other participant who might help break down defenses to take the stress off Mitchell. During the common season, Conley made his first All-Star look and averaged 16.2 factors and 6 assists per sport on 44.Four % capturing, putting him firmly within the higher tier of N.B.A. guards.
Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Injury: The Celtics introduced on May 10 that Brown would miss the tip of the common season and all the postseason due to a torn ligament in his left wrist.
Impact: Brown established himself as a star this season, with averages of 24.7 factors and 6 rebounds per sport. He additionally made his first All-Star group. But his presence probably wouldn’t have made a lot of a distinction within the playoffs, the place the Celtics misplaced to the closely favored Nets within the first spherical in 5 video games.