By Craig Fields
How many times have we heard the great Doc Rivers, coach of the Boston Celtics, say something to the extent of, “We will not use injuries as an excuse. We are all professional athletes out here and we have to find a way to get it done. No excuses, none. We don’t accept them.” You can say that Doc Rivers lacks a few things as a coach, but integrity is not one of those things. He refuses to give himself a pass just because his star player Rajon Rondo is hurt. Injuries have seriously taken a toll on would be championship contenders over the past four to five years. Between 2009 and 2012 the Boston Celtics suffered injuries to key players that greatly decreased their probability of winning championships.
The 2013 NBA Playoffs have been no different. It seems every major contender has caught the same bug that has plagued the Boston Celtics over the years. Kobe Bryant. Danny Granger. David Lee. Dwyane Wade. Rajon Rondo. Amare Stoudemire. Derrick Rose. Russell Westbrook. Danillo Gallinari. Joakim Noah. Not only would this list of names make for an epic game of 5 vs. 5 in the latest installment of NBA 2K, but they are also significant in that they are the high dollar big name players that are either hobbled or out for these playoffs.
These playoffs have been largely forgettable and frankly unwatchable because of the constant and consistent blowouts. If not for the highly entertaining 3 OT game in Chicago when the battered and bruised Bulls fought valiantly to finally secure a win against the Brooklyn Nets, these playoffs would easily be the least enjoyable of the last 5-to-10 years. I do not care how much Greg Popovich is fined, he continues to look like the best coach in the league with how he delegates minutes and rests players. But, even his team has not been protected from the injury bug. With starting center Thiago Splitter missing time because of a sprained ankle and a gimpy Manu Ginobili with a hamstring, the Spurs look as vulnerable as any other contender.
Sorry fans, title contenders, coaches, and front offices alike but this years’ playoffs belong to the great and powerful equalizer. It goes by many names, but you might as well know it as that thing that ends your title hopes and dreams. It is the one. The only. The injury. And it could be coming to a team near you.