Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Injury Bug is Buggin' Me

We have all heard the tired old axiom that "injuries are part of the game". On any given night, any team can lose any player. One could argue that injuries help create parity and make things interesting. I would not argue that. This year, several key injuries have robbed us of some potentially entertaining postseason matchups. Enough has already been written and said about Chicago losing Derrick Rose and New York losing Amare Stoudemire. Here are some other untimely injuries that really disappointed me.

Hawks losing Al Horford 
In '08 the Hawks and Celtics treated us to an unforgettable 1st round series. It went 7 games as neither team could win on the road. This year could have been another great matchup but for the injury to Al Horford. The tandem of Al Horford and Josh Smith gave Boston trouble. The Celtics are still tough to score on once their defense gets set and teams that run the fast break effectively pose problems for them. When the Hawks have two 7 footers who run like gazelles on the floor at the same time, they are a much more dangerous team. This current series has been watchable but a far cry from the barn burner we saw in '08.

Magic losing Dwight Howard 
What has been overshadowed by the trade demands, trade deadline change of heart, Stan Van Gundy drama, and poorly timed injuries was just how special a season Dwight Howard was having. Howard has always possessed the ability to take over a game defensively. This year his offensive skills were finally catching up to his formidable defensive presence. Dwight was having a monster season and took over games against quality teams. 972 miles north, Indiana's big man was also having a special season. Third year center Roy Hibbert was posting career highs in every major category and showing flashes of dominance. While Roy Hibbert is not yet playing at Dwight Howard's level, I very much wanted to see the two of them battle in the low post for an entire series.

Knicks losing Jeremy Lin 
Admittedly, the Linsanity phenomenon had begun to lose its luster before his knee injury. The team's identity had changed once Carmelo Anthony was added to the starting lineup and Mike Woodson took over for D'Antoni. While I never bought into the hype that Jeremy Lin was an elite point guard, I was impressed with how he was able to adjust from game to game. The guy has a remarkable basketball IQ and I believe that he could have become a solid contributor to this Knicks' team if given more playing time. Even at full strength, these Knicks had little chance of beating the Heat but I was interested to see how Lin would perform in his first postseason series.

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