Every team complains about injuries. Last season, even before Livingston's knee vanished, the Clippers complained about injuries. And sure, Sam Cassell spent a lot of time banged up, but by and large, the Clippers had a relatively injury-free season until March.
I watched the Suns-Lakers on Friday night. And yes, Andrew Bynum has been playing great and is a big loss for them right now. But they showed a graphic chronicling the Lakers' injury 'woes'. In addition to Bynum there was Chris Mihm, Vlad Radmanovic and Sasha Vujacic (who, by the way, played and played well in that game). Really? This qualifies as 'injury-plagued'? Three backups, who by the way aren't even necessarily the first backup at their positions? And let's be clear - Andrew Bynum is NOT Kobe Bryant.
And then there's Denver. They've been hit pretty hard by a number of injuries. Nene has played only 10 games and is out again, KMart has missed 10 games, Steven Hunter, Chucky Atkins, Anthony Carter. Know who hasn't been injured? Allen Iverson (39 out of 39 games), Carmelo Anthony (39) and Marcus Camby (38), inarguably the team's best three players.
Same thing with San Antonio. On a recent national TV game the announcers were talking about how much the missed Brent Barry. Brent Barry? Without Duncan, Parker or Ginobili or some combination of those guys, the Spurs played losing basketball. Big deal. Those three have missed 4, 4 and 5 games - 13 games COMBINED. Sam Cassell missed 12 by himself. And Elton Brand has missed a few more than that.
No team has been hit harder by injuries than the Clippers. Neither in terms of quality (6 of their top 7 scorers have missed multiple games including the season to date for their undisputed best player) nor in terms of quantity (I've got them at 130 player-games lost, give or take a few Aaron Williams games where maybe he could have played) nor in terms of severity (two major knee operations and an Achilles operation in 9 months).
The injuries to key players during the season have been astoundingly linear.
- For three games the top five Generic Clippers (Kaman, Maggette, Cassell, Mobley and Thomas) were healthy. They won all three.
- Cat Mobley got hurt five minutes into game 4.
- Cat returned (less than 100%) in game 7 - the Clippers won.
- Corey Maggette was injured in game 8.
- Corey returned in game 13 - the same game in which Sam Cassell was injured after four minutes.
- Cassell returned in game 26 - the same game in which Tim Thomas was injured after playing two minutes.
Throughout, there have been other injuries as well. Paul Davis was of course lost for the year. Williams has rarely been 100%. And Brevin Knight has missed a few games in addition to being limited in minutes because of a stress reaction at this point. But given the negligible margin of error for the Generic Clippers, the loss of any of their double figure scorers is more than enough to send them to defeat in most games.
Since Thomas returned to the lineup in game number 31, the Clippers have played 6 consecutive games with their top five scorers. It is the longest such steak of the season, a stretch that includes wins over Phoenix and New Jersey, a heartbreaking loss to Dallas, and near-misses to San Antonio and Orlando. By my reckoning, the team is 6-4 in the 10 games in which they started and ended the game with their top five players healthy enough to play. I'm not talking about dinged up here. I'm saying either a key guy wasn't in uniform, or sustained an injury during the game in 26 out of 36 games this season. And they're 6-4 in the other 10. And the four losses are to teams with a combined record of 100 wins and 60 losses.
The fact that the team is 6 and 20 in the other 26 games is just not news. Take the best player and two other 'starters' from any team in the league and see how they do. Better yet, check the box scores.
And unless your team is missing their best player, don't complain to ClipsNation about injuries.