When the NBA Playoffs started three weeks ago, I, just like most, envisioned a scenario that mirrored many of last season’s outcomes. Many of the same teams held their same positions as last season, and are right where we expected them to be. But there are some teams that we would’ve never expected to be here at this point in the post season. Is it because players have stepped up and played great ball? No. Is it because stars have played below their potential? No. At this point in the post season, there has been one clear cut MVP: INJURIES.

INJURIES have had a bigger impact on this season’s playoffs than any player or team. Without injuries, there is no way the #1 team in the Eastern Conference (Chicago Bulls) would be sitting at home right now. Injuries to point guard Derrick Rose, and later, center Joakim Noah, determined their fate. Up by double-digits, in a Game 1 blowout, when Rose went down, we knew it was over for this team.

INJURIES. Did I pick the New York Knicks to upset the Heat in round 1? No. But this was the match-up I was anticipating more than any other in Round 1. I was excited about seeing Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudamire, Jeremy Lin, Tyson Chandler, and a good line of role players face the Miami “Heatles”. I thought it would at least go to 6 games, if not 7. But when Lin never returned, and Amare threw a better shot off the court than he did on the court, I checked out. I knew the Heat would advance easily to the next round.

INJURIES. After witnessing Clippers guard Chris Paul single-handedly win playoff games last year (as a New Orleans Hornet), I was hyped to see him play with help. As great as San Antonio has been playing this year, I still can’t see them sweeping this team if Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are completely healthy. Paul looked as vulnerable as he ever has in this series of games. Even in game 4, when he posted 23 points and 12 assists, he made critical mistakes that usually aren’t his style. We can give credit to the Spurs defense, but when Clippers back up guard Eric Bledsoe easily went off for 11 consecutive points in the 4th, I don’t think this was the case. CP3 was able to get to the spots he wanted….he just couldn’t convert.

INJURIES. I like the Indiana Pacers as a young, hungry team, but let’s be honest. Mr. Injury has been their best friend through the first two rounds. First, they were able to cruise by the Orlando Magic, without having to worry about the most dominant big man in the league; Dwight Howard. Out due to injury. Now, they are in a 2-2 split with the Miami Heat. A series that really only became a competition when All-star forward Chris Bosh, who teammate LeBron James called the “most important player on the team”, went down with an abdominal injury. Bosh’s time-table on the injury list is indefinite, and so the intrigue around who will win this series. If a Miami Heat team official announced right now that Bosh would be back, completely healthy for game 5, we would all say this series would end in 6 games, in favor of Miami. Not to mention, Dwayne Wade has been ailing with knee injuries through the first 4 games of this series, which has been a big help to Indy.

INJURIES. They are a part of the game. This post season they have been a key decider in several games. We can only hope that it has gotten its share of casualties, and TALENT will get a chance to decide the remaining games. We will see. But for now, INJURIES have been the MVP.


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