Losing an NBA playoff game is bad enough, but losing a key player during the playoffs is even worse. That is the position that the Bulls, Knicks and Magic find themselves in at this critical point of the season.
The top- seeded Bulls looked as if they were on a collision course with the white-hot Miami Heat for the right to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. The Bulls were cruising to an easy victory against the eighth seeded Philadelphia 76’ers. Then Chicago’s worse scenario materialized right in front of the 20,000 plus fans at The United Center. With a little more than a minute to go in the contest, the defending MVP Derrick Rose went down in agony holding his left knee. You could have heard a pin drop in that building. It turns out that he tore his ACL putting an end to his injury-riddled season.
Although the Bulls won over sixty five percent of their games without him during the regular season, the chances of the Bulls advancing beyond the second round without Rose are slim to none. Yes, the Bulls are still a solid team without Rose but they need him to score those critical baskets down the stretch. Tom Tibibodeau does not have a go to scorer as talented as his point guard and that is what you need in the post season. The Bulls will get by the Sixers without Rose. However, to quote the TNT Crew, “They will be going fishing after the second round!”
Then you have the Magic. Their playoff run was over before it began as they found out that they lost their All Star center, Dwight Howard, a week before the post season began. Needless to say the Magic’s chances of advancing without Howard are about as good as Howard asking head coach Stan Van Gundy to be his best man at his wedding. To say that this has been a rocky, unnerving season for the talented big man is an understatement of Biblical proportions.
Howard put the Magic organization through hell this season with his never ending swaying back and forth on whether he was going to stay in the Magic Kingdom. It seemed like every week, he was publically dreaming about playing for another organization. I’m sure that did not endure him to his teammates or his coach. Then, when Van Gundy put him on blast, the damage was more severe than any back injury. I just hope that Howard makes up his mind and decides what he wants to do and sticks by his decision.
Then we have our beloved Knicks, who limped into the playoffs wounded. They were already behind the eight ball with this series playing the Heat even if they were entirely healthy. But without Jeremy Lin, who was out with a knee injury, it was going to be an uphill battle. It was bad enough that they found themselves down by as many as 30 points in game one but then Iman Shumpert went down to a severe knee injury of his own. Not only did the Knicks lose a viable offense threat, they lost their best on –the- ball defender, diminishing their chances of defeating the Heat.
Add to the mix that Tyson Chandler is shell of himself as he is suffering with the flu. Now, three games into the series, the Knicks find themselves without three of their best players going against three of the best players in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Just when you thought things could not get any worse, then Amar’e Stoudemire decides to take out his frustration on a fire extinguisher severely cutting his hand in the process. Now the million dollar question is, Is Amar’e frustrated because the Knicks are losing or is it he not getting enough touches as Carmelo is jacking up shots at an alarming rate? Now they are down two games to none without four of their best players. Needless to say their playoffs hopes are on life support.
It is bad enough to lose in the playoffs but to lose due the fact that you are not at full strength has to hurt. As Howard, Lin, Rose, Shumpert and Amar’e nurse their wounds during the off-season, all they can do is imagine what is and what could have happened.