Injuries plague opening round of the NBA Playoffs


Noah Simon, Staff Writer

This year’s NBA season marked the 3 installment of the NBA play-in tournament, to seed the final 2 spots in the Eastern and Western Conference playoff bracket.

In the east, the Atlanta Hawks (7) and Miami Heat (8) were able to claim the remaining two spots, while the Los Angeles Lakers (7) and Minnesota Timberwolves (8) were able to do so in the West.

 In the opening round of the Playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers (3) were the first team to advance to the second round by sweeping their series against the Brooklyn Nets (6), amidst star player and MVP front runner Joel Embiid’s injury, which left him sidelined in game 4.

Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers told the media that the MRI result on Embiid’s sprained knee “did not look good”, and the Center’s status is unclear for the upcoming round, as the team gets ready to face the the Boston Celtics in the second round.

The matchup between the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks and 8 seed Miami Heat was quickly flustered with Injuries, as Bucks Star Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with a lower back injury in the opening minutes of game 1 and was unable to play in games 2 and 3.

He did return for game 4, but two tremendous performances from Heat star Jimmy Butler with 56 points in game 4, and 42 in game 5, helped the Heat beat the Bucks 4 games to 1.

 The Heat will now face the New York Knicks in round 2. Miami will severely shorthanded for the upcoming series, with guard Tyler Hero undergoing season ending surgery on a broken wrist suffered in the very first game.

In addition to that, Victor Oladipo suffered another season ending injury late in game 3, tearing his patella tendon in his left knee.

The New York Knicks (5) closed out their opening round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers (4) in dominant fashion, winning 4 out of 5 games to advance to play against Miami in the second round. The Knicks win their first playoff series since 2014.

The Boston Celtics (2) closed out the Atlanta Hawks (7) 4-2, after clinching the series in Atlanta in game 6. Celtics guard Malcom Brogdon was recently named the league’s sixth man of the year, an award given to the best player coming off the bench for their team.

In the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets (1) beat the Minnesota Timberwolves (8), 4-1 after Minnesota survived a late Denver push in the fourth quarter of game 4, to avoid the sweep. Denver will now face Phoenix in round 2 of the NBA playoffs.

The second seed in the West, the Memphis Grizzlies were eliminated by the 7 seed in the Los Angeles Lakers 2-4.

 Los Angeles beat Memphis by an astonishing 40 points in game 6 to close out the series, after star point guard Ja Morant missed game 2, due to aggravating a soft issue injury in his shooting hand in the fourth quarter of game 1.

Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. was named Defensive Player of the Year ahead of game 2, making him the second youngest player to receive the award, behind 3-time winner Dwight Howard.

The lone remaining series of the opening round is between the Sacramento Kings (3) and the reigning champions, the Golden State Warriors (6). Both teams were able to win two games on their home floor and one game each away from home to tie the series at 3 games apiece.

 Game 7 is set to take place on Sunday afternoon, to decide who will face the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round.

The Warriors are only the third reigning champions to start the playoffs 0-2, with the previous 2 going on to loss that series.

The final opening round series between the Phoenix Suns (4) and Los Angeles Clippers (5) has taken a horrible turn due to injuries for the Los Angeles Clippers who ended up falling to the Suns 4-1.

L.A. is missing star guard Paul George already, who went down with a sprained knee late in the regular season.

More terrible for news for clippers fans were announced ahead of game 3, as star forward Kawhi Leonard sustained a knee injury in game 1 which he played through before missing the final three games. It was later announced that Leonard had torn his meniscus in his right knee.

While the first round of playoff basketball comes to a close, numerous teams are without key pieces this early into the postseason, raising concerns as to which team will be fit enough to make a deep run this season.

Miami and the Los Angeles Lakers became the first teams from the play in tournament to win a playoff series.

With the second round around the corner, action packed games and thrilling finishes are what fans around the word are waiting for. Let’s see who will be able to prevail.