We are watching the worst NBA playoffs ever.
At least, that’s what it feels like.
It seems like every game some team in the postseason has lost a player along the way. And worse, it has been star players sidelined and unable to compete.
It seems destined that the team that wins the NBA title won’t necessarily be the best team, but the healthiest.
And that’s a shame.
For sure, injuries happen and it’s a part of the game. Still, at this time of the year, you want teams to be at full strength and able to compete at the highest level.
But Sunday was just another example of how these NBA playoffs have been devastated with injuries.
The Brooklyn Nets lost star guard Kyrie Irving in the second quarter of a huge Game 4. Irving sprained his right ankle. The only saving grace for the Nets is that X-rays were negative. Irving left the arena in Milwaukee in a walking boot and on crutches.
When he left the game, so did the Nets’ momentum.
The Nets had a chance to put a stranglehold on the series. A win and they would have gone back home with a 3-1 advantage. Instead, the Milwaukee Bucks took advantage of the injury and tied the best-of-seven series at two games each.
This is the second time in four games that the Nets have lost one of their Big 3 players. In Game 1, star guard James Harden was sidelined just 43 seconds in.
Harden hurt his right hamstring on the very first drive of the game. He came out of the game and we haven’t seen him since.
Before Sunday, it seemed as if Harden was progressing and that there was a chance of him returning to the series.
Still, Harden’s injury took the steam out of a Nets team many have been waiting to be completely healthy and fully together all season. Sadly, all three missed time during the regular season. Kevin Durant and Harden were both hurt for a good amount of time.
On Saturday, we saw another star get injured. Utah Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell got hurt. He limped off the fourth in the fourth quarter of Game 3 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Mitchell aggravated the same right ankle that kept him out of Game 1 of Utah’s first-round playoff series.
Mitchell claims he’s fine and he will be ready for Game 4 in L.A. tonight at 10 p.m. ET.
The Clippers — playing without power forward Serge Ibaka (back surgery) in the postseason — will try to even the series at two games each.
There was also a big question about the health of Philadelphia 76ers star center Joel Embiid before his team’s second-round series against the Hawks. Thus far, Embiid — with an injured knee — has played in the first three games of the series. Tonight for Game 4, he’s listed as questionable.
Earlier in the playoffs, Anthony Davis got hurt for the Lakers. The impact of his loss was huge as LeBron James suffered his first first-round exit in the postseason in his career, the Lakers setting to the Suns.
The Suns — who saw guard Chris Paul injure his shoulder in Game 1 of that series — was able to regroup and mop up the Lakers easily after Davis was hobbled.
And there have been others banged up and bruised during this postseason process. It may actually be fitting when you think of all the regular season injuries we saw in the rushed-back NBA season.
As for the Nets, no one is sure what that lineup will look like for a pivotal Game 5 back in Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
“I have no idea what’s going to happen with [Irving] in the coming days,” said Nets coach Steve Nash to the media. “We will cross our fingers and hope that it is better than I don’t know — better than what — better than missing the next game?”
The Nets claim they will make a decision on Harden independently of Irving’s injury, that they wouldn’t rush Harden, if he’s not ready.
Either way, the playoffs have been painful to watch. Not just because of the injuries on the court, but because we’ve been cheated from seeing the best play at their best.