Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 NBA Playoffs - Top Teams hurt by Injuries?

For the most part the teams with the higher seeds were on the winning end this past weekend, with the exception of two Eastern Conference squads. First off, the Boston Celtics lost a tough opening game in Boston to the Chicago Bulls in Overtime. Derrick Rose was considered the big hero, as he lead the team in scoring, and Ben Gordon also added some firepower. The Bulls have been a team full of talent which hadn't truly materialized. This could be their chance to get some playoff experience and maybe be the team to eventually test the Cleveland Cavs, who won their opener over Detroit easily.

The other high seed to get shocked at home was the Orlando Magic. They were in control of the Philadelphia 76ers by double digits heading into the 4th, but Philly stayed strong and battled back to overcome an 18 point deficit. With the game tied, it was an Andre Iguaduola jumper that gave the Sixers the edge, and put the Magic into a 0-1 situation, taking away home court advantage. I'll be the first to admit, I didn't give the Sixers much chance to win, and quite possibly they enjoyed being in that situation, as the Davids who rise to the challenge and overcome the Goliath. Andre Iguoduola is increasing his star presence that much more with each winning shot he delivers.

You can never make excuses in sports, but understand that both the Celtics and Magic are currently without two stars from their rotation. The Celtics are very hurt without the services of one Kevin Garnett, who was an inspirational and motivational floor leader who does just about everything. The Magic are missing point guard Jameer Nelson, who was an All-star this past season like KG, but was unable to participate in the game. Again, both these teams have plenty of other stars, but you could make a case that their absences played a part in helping to motivate the opposing teams to victory. It's still early in the playoffs, and both the Magic and Celtics are quite capable of stealing victories on the road, so let's not jump to foregone conclusions that either team is going to fold. Both teams lost very closely contested games, and these are the playoffs. You adapt, re-adjust and reload for the next game.

One thing the playoffs always tend to bring is the unsung heroes, as players who seem lost in the shuffle, too young to be known, or over-the-hill are elevated in status or reborn and rejuvenated. Some cases in point include the Sixers' Donyell Marshall who nailed plenty of key threes against Orlando, helping the Sixers to come back and win, and the Rockets' Dikembe Mutombo, the oldest guy in the league who showed against Portland you still don't want to bring shots into the House of Mutombo. Let's hope for more great surprises as these 2009 Playoffs continue!

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