By this Saturday, each series in the 2012 NBA Playoffs will have at least completed the pivotal third game of their respective match-up. By the time a series hits its third game, we’re able to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Here are a few things that this year’s playoffs have shown us so far.
Every possession in the playoffs matter! It sounds like a very simple concept, right? The meaning goes much deeper than those six words would indicate. So far we’ve seen Derrick Rose, Josh Smith, Iman Shumpert, Mo Williams, Amar’e Stoudemire and Caron Butler fall victim to injury. Rose, Shumpert, Butler and possibly Stoudemire, were each lost for the remainder of the playoffs. All four players are crucial components to their team’s success, and their injuries could have ended the season for their respective franchise. Josh Smith was recently diagnosed with patellar tendinitis after banging knees with Kevin Garnett. The Hawks star is currently doubtful to play in tonight’s game three, but should be able to return for Sunday’s match-up in Boston. Los Angeles Clippers guard Mo Williams, suffered a forearm contusion and is currently listed as day-to-day, but is expected to play in Saturday’s game in the Staples Center. The news on Mo’s injury was a little easier to handle, after Caron Butler was lost in game one with a broken hand. Each of these injuries have come at inopportune times, leaving their team’s playoff chances in peril. Injuries are “usually” things that can’t be controlled, but the 2012 playoffs have proved that this isn’t always the case.
Think before you act! As children we were always taught to think things through before we make a decision. With every choice, there’s usually a positive and negative result, or in some cases a person is left to choose between the “lesser of two evils.” In the cases of Rajon Rondo and Amar’e Stoudemire, both decisions made by the two stars returned very negative outcomes. In game one of the Hawks versus Celtics series, Rajon Rondo argued a call made by NBA referee Marc Davis, which resulted in the all-star receiving a technical foul. However, rather than just dealing with the tech, the Celtic point guard decided to give Davis a slight chest bump, which resulted in an ejection and a one-game suspension. Luckily for Boston, they were able to rally behind Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Rondo’s absence, and tie the series up at one game apiece.
Unfortunately the same can’t be said about the New York Knicks, who followed a 33-point loss in game one, with a ten point loss in game two. But, the greater loss game at the conclusion of the second game. Starting power forward Amar’e Stoudemire sought to unleash a bit of frustration en route to the locker room, and punched through the glass casing of a fire extinguisher. The Knicks big man said he assumed the casing was made of plastic and didn’t expect his hand to be injured. Stoudemire underwent surgery to repair muscle damage in his left hand, which forced him from game three. While the 100 million dollar man hopes to play on Sunday, chances are fairly slim. Although he may have been able to escape severe damage to his non-shooting hand, the timing of this injury may have damaged his chances of remaining a Knick beyond this season. The former all-star has now been forced out of a series in back-to-back years as a member of the franchise, and is already the subject of trade rumors. With three years and 60 million dollars remaining on his current deal, it will be very difficult for the Knicks to move on from the man they call STAT. If game four is anything like the others, the off-season decisions may come much sooner than expected for the Empire State.
When it’s all said and done, who will remain standing? At this point in the tournament, we’ve already seen which teams have come to the table meaning business. The Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs have all taken command of their respective series. While the Lakers and Spurs have yet to play a third game, the two game series lead has made quite a statement. Each of these veteran teams should continue to coast through their respective match-ups, where they will both meet a formidable opponent. The Lakers are poised to face the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have all but eliminated the defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, after taking a 3-0 series lead. With the “Lake-show” & OKC likely to finish their respective match-ups within four to five games, the time for rest and proper preparation will be very limited. But the intrigue for this series couldn’t be any greater, as L.A. will welcome back