Posted on May 21, 2017, by Travis Pulver
At this point in the NBA season, fans should be looking forward to watching the best of the best teams the league has to offer battle for the right to be called champions. Fans should be eager to watch the few remaining games in the 2016-17 season—but they aren’t.
These games aren’t just bad. They are terrible. Must-see-TV? More like must-not-see TV. Some games have been blowouts, but some have not. However, each one has been dominated by one team making them far from entertaining.
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With only four teams remaining you would think the games would be better, right? How is it that two of the four are doing so well and the other two are barely putting up a fight?
Injuries. Injuries have made the Conference Finals feel more like preseason games than playoff games.
For San Antonio, it started in the Conference Semifinals when they lost Tony Parker (ruptured quadriceps tendon) early in the series—but they were able to weather his loss.
Kawhi Leonard (ankle) went down late in the series but was able to return against Golden State in Game One. With him leading the charge, they appeared as if they were going to dominate the Warriors (at least in Game One). But then Leonard went down again. Since then, the Warriors have outscored the Spurs by 73 points.
San Antonio put up a better fight in Game Three but still lost; not just the game but David Lee (torn patella tendon) as well.
Golden State now leads the series 3-0 with Game Four on deck Monday night.
Over in the Eastern Conference Finals, injuries haven’t decimated either team’s roster quite like San Antonio’s. But one has made a significant impact on the outcome of the series—Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas didn’t play in the second half of Game Two due to a hip injury, and has since been ruled out for the remainder of the postseason with what the team has called a “re-aggravation of a right femoral-acetabular impingement with a labral tear.”
In layman’s terms—a hip injury.
“Isaiah has worked tirelessly to manage this injury since it first occurred,” said Celtics Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian McKeon in a released statement (NBCSports). “The swelling increased during the first two games against Cleveland, and in order to avoid more significant long-term damage to his hip, we could no longer allow him to continue.”
The injury originally occurred on March 15 against the Minnesota Timberwolves forcing him to miss the next two games. In Game Six against the Washington Wizards, he aggravated the injury. He dealt with it for Game Seven and again in Game One against the Cavaliers.
But he apparently re-aggravated it in Game Two to the point that a return if the series was close is not in question. The team hopes to find out soon if he needs surgery.
Thomas is only one man. Surely, the Celtics can handle being one man down—right? Well, maybe if it was any other player. But Thomas is the most dynamic player the Celtics have on the roster. By losing him, the team loses its No. 1 scoring threat and the one guy that can make plays happen all on his own.
So what is a team to do when it loses players to injury like the Spurs and Celtics have? They do exactly what Manu Ginobili suggested after the Spurs lost Game Three:
“We have to fight with the soldiers we have. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”
He’s right. No one will feel sorry for San Antonio or Boston—and they will not bother watching the inevitable either. Now when Golden State and Cleveland finally meet–now that should be epic.