THE INJURY CONUNDRUM 

It’s glaring and painful to notice and watch: The NBA has never had more All-Stars missing playoff games because of injuries

ALL STARS OUT

It’s glaring and painful to notice and watch: The NBA has never had more All-Stars missing playoff games because of injuries. Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Jaylen Brown, James Harden, Joel Embiid. They all missed at least one game in these playoffs because they were hurt. But there were more, because we’re not even talking about the impactful players who never made the All-Star game, but also missed time in the most crucial part of the season. 

And it got even worse, with the injuries to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Trae Young, in the Conference Finals. Let’s be honest: that just sucks big time. NBA fans want to see the best players on the court in the moments and games that matter. You want to see the best competing against the best and in the end get the “rightful champion”. But we also have to admit that injuries are part of the game. Unlike what LeBron James has been claiming. It is part of the game, especially in the NBA. It always has been and it always will be if the schedule stays this grueling. 

THE 71 DAYS ISSUE

But why is it so bad this year? Why do so many important players suffer these injury blows right now? According to some people it’s because of the shorter off-season some teams had. There were only 71 days between the last game of the Finals in the bubble and the first game of this season. But not every team went that far in Disney World. Not even every team was in the bubble. Some players had the shortest off-season ever. Some had the longest. Another possible reason is the the schedule, cramped together, just to get as many games in it as possible. And there’s the start of the season. One month earlier than expected, but approved by everybody. Also by the players (yes, you too LeBron). Nobody wanted to lose money. Not the league, not the networks and not the players. 


Sometimes it's just bad luck 

So, let’s look at the injuries itself. What do we see? There were a lot of freaky ones. Kyrie landed on Giannis’ foot, Giannis made contact with Clint Capela’s leg before injuring his knee, Trae Young stepped on a referee’s foot, Donovan Mitchell came down on Derrick Favour’s foot, Joel Embiid had a weird landing, AD fell awkwardly after a lay-up,… You can’t prevent those kind of things. Everybody who has played a contact sport knows that. It’s actually a miracle these sort of injuries don’t happen more frequently. We also have to take a look at the history each player has with injuries. Kyrie, Kawhi, Embiid and Anthony Davis have all had many injuries before and have proven to be injury prone. Even Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the end of last year’s playoffs because of an injury. A freak injury, but it still was one. And James Harden started the season way out of shape, that also has consequences. The point is: sometimes it’s just a bad luck. And that’s what we’re seeing right now. A lot of bad luck. In the worst possible moment ever.


LESS GAMES = LESS INJURIES? 

So what can be done to help the players? There have been discussions about shortening the regular season, to benefit the players’ health. And that probably is the best idea. To make life a little easier on their bodies, to reduce the wear and tear and also to finally end that ridiculous load management. 82 games in the regular season just is too much, even though it’s always been that way. 

Players do have it easier these days, with more means and more available technology to take care of their bodies or help them recover. But a shorter schedule would make that even better and it would also improve the product between the lines. That’s he only way we can try to prevent injuries. 

And i emphasize the word ‘try’, because if a player lands on somebody else’s foot or get’s the body of another player on his leg, it doesn’t matter how many games he has played. The injury will probably be just as severe. 

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Dennis is the NBA expert for Bouncewear. From presenting his own X's and O's podcast, commentating Belgiums' Euromillions Basketball League games to presenting at Play Sports, he shares his view on all NBA actualities.
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