The first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs has provided us with plenty of entertaining games and high-pressure moments. Unfortunately, we’ve also been seeing superstar players drop like flies.
Joel Embiid is the latest victim of the injury bug, and he only managed play in a total of 11 minutes of Game 4 thanks to knee soreness. Losing ‘The Process’ is a huge deal for Philly. He was averaging 29.3 PPG in the first three games of the series and was a big part of why they dominated their way to a 3-0 series lead.
It’s getting ridiculous for us NBA fans. We’ve seen injuries to a lot of the leading players on this year’s marquee teams, and you’ve got to wonder when it’s going to stop.
Stars make this league, and losing them doesn’t just have serious implications for their teams’ title hopes, but it also dilutes the quality of the games.
Here’s how the injuries have affected teams so far:
- The Phoenix Suns saw Chris Paul get hit with a shoulder injury in Game 1 of their series against the LA Lakers, and though they managed to gut it out in Game 1, they lost Games 2 and 3 with Paul playing with difficulty.
- That same series saw Anthony Davis go down with a groin injury in Game 4. Considering that he was their best player in the previous two games, it was no surprise that they fell 100-92 to get the series tied at 2-2.
- Luka Doncic, who helped the Mavericks steal two games on the LA Clippers’ home court, has been hobbled by a nerve injury that’s clearly affected his overall play. His struggles allowed the Clippers to recover and tie the series, and he clearly had problems in Game 4 while shooting 9 of 24 from the field, 1 of 7 from three, and 0 of 5 from the free throw line.
- Embiid, one of the leading MVP candidates in the regular season, labored and was only able to produce eight points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal before being ruled out of the second half. His absence had a huge effect on the Philadelphia 76ers, who were outscored 32-19 in the third quarter by the Washington Wizards and never recovered from that deficit in a 122-114 loss.
Out of the four superstars that have been hurt so far, only Paul looks to be on the mend, as shown by his 18 points, three rebounds, nine assists and three steals in 32 minutes of play in Game 4.
Anthony Davis looks unlikely to play in a pivotal Game 5 that will be played in Phoenix, and considering that he already had a sprained knee to start Game 4, he might not look great when he does return.
Doncic has been confident and says his injury has improved, but with the Clippers defense and offense finally rolling, anything less than 100% from him will be disastrous for the Mavericks.
To be fair, the Sixers may just be playing safe with Embiid, since they still have a 3-1 lead in the series. Let’s hope that’s the case and he gets rested more in Game 5 – and that his teammates can carry on with the win without him.
All of these injuries are taking away these teams’ fair shot at the NBA Finals, and it’s a good reminder that championships aren’t just won with skill. There’s also a lot of good luck needed along the way with regards to players staying healthy.
Let’s hope no one else goes down, because it’s been a really fun postseason so far.