Injuries have shaped the 2013 NBA playoffs
Obviously injuries are always a factor in the playoffs after a long regular season. Just last year, Chris Bosh's abdominal injury almost did the Heat in and the Bulls were essentially eliminated when Derrick Rose went down. But this year, more than any other in recent memory, injuries have been the story.
Here are some of the current injury situations around the league: Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are still not 100%, Dwyane Wade missed a game, Chris Paul is playing with a hurt thumb, Kenneth Farried and Stephen Curry had some ankle issues and Andrew Bogut isn't completely healthy. These sound like typical stories come playoff time. But this year is unique in the amount of significant injuries to star players and the number of series that are being shaped by these injuries.
Westbrook, Rose, Rondo, Bryant, Nash, Lee, Gallinari, Lin, Granger, Stoudemire, and Griffin are some of the big names that have missed time in the playoffs. A few of them missed ample time during the season while others seem to be dropping like flies lately.
In more than half of first round matchups, the ability or inability of a team to adjust to the loss of a superstar has become the primary story line in the series and if some of these injuries hadn't happened, the playoffs would look very different.
Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash probably wouldn't have led the Lakers to an upset, but it would have been more competitive. The Rockets would be eliminated by now if Westbrook was playing and the Bulls would have been a top-3 seed and serious contender with Derrick Rose. The Knicks might not have made their late-season run if Amare was playing and the Celtics are a completely different team with Rondo at the helm. And, as we saw in the last Grizzlies-Clippers game, LA has no answer for the Memphis bigs if Blake is unable to play.
And in pretty much every series, injuries have given other players opportunities to shine on a big stage that they otherwise wouldn't have had.
Steph Curry has emerged as a the best shooter in the universe, Nate Robinson is showing the league that he can carry a team from time to time, Paul George has declared himself an up-and-coming star in Danny Granger's absence, and Patrick Beverley is making a name for himself without Jeremy Lin on the floor.