Posted on: April 6, 2011 12:38 pm

Could Caron Butler return in the playoffs?

Caron Butler was supposed to be out for the year with a ruptured patellar tendon. But he's pushing to make an unlikely return in the playoffs for a Mavericks team that desperately needs him.
Posted by Matt Moore

The Mavericks haven't really been the same since Caron Butler went down to injury. Before Butler ruptured his patellar tendon, the Mavericks weren't just good. They were great. For most of the season they held the second spot in the West. They were right there with San Antonio, vying for the top spot. Then Butler went down, and the Mavericks elected, in a rare moment of restraint, to not replace him through trade. The result has been a slow and gradual slide that has them clinging to the third seed over Oklahoma City. They went from a team that looked like a Finals contender to a team opponents are vying to play in the first-round. Butler's absence has been a big part of that. Without him for the rest of the season, their prospects seem dim. 

Yeah, about that whole "Butler being out the entire season thing." 

Butler has been making significant progress in rehabbing from his injury. To the point where there's starting to be some rumblings that we may see the veteran wing back in the postseason. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Rick Carlisle said the prospects of a return at some point in the playoffs still hinge on the medical aspect of the situation. Butler has been out since Jan. 1 when he ruptured his patellar tendon in Milwaukee.

“Could he help us if he was healthy? Of course,’’ Carlisle said. “But to what extent he’s going to be healthy and when, those are questions I can’t answer right now and I’m not sure any of our medical people can. The thing I do know is that he’s made phenomenal progress. He’s way ahead of schedule for this type of injury. I’m just not sure whether that’s going to manifest in him putting a uniform back on at any point soon.’’

Butler has vowed to make it back at some point in the playoffs, hoping to hit the optimistic end of the four-to-six month normal recovery time from his injury.
via Full-Court Press: Mavericks' (and UConn ex) Butler doing better Tuesday than Butler U..

That's pretty tough stuff from the guy they call Tuff Juice. Butler's shopping for a new contract after this season, and while you could argue that might be behind his drive to return and up his value, the risk is much greater in showing poorly or suffering another injury. Butler is 30, and should be looking for that last long-term contract. But instead, he's aiming to return. 

Butler wasn't playing great for the Mavericks before his injury. 15-4-2 isn't a huge contribution. But his defensive work was a significant boon for the Mavericks, and something they will desperately need, regardless of who they face in the playoffs. Getting him back could put them back on the playoff map. It's a long way back for Butler, and it's unlikely he manages to return from that kind of injury. But if he can and provide the Mavericks any significant contribution, the Mavs may turn this thing around, which would be bad news for the rest of the West, considering how strong the Mavericks still are. 

Posted on: April 5, 2011 4:08 pm

Elton Brand is playing through a broken hand

Elton Brand suffered a "very minor fracture" in March, has not and will not miss any time. Because he's tougher than you.
Posted by Matt Moore

Elton Brand has been one of the biggest reasons why the Sixers have found their ways back to the playoffs. Brand's numbers are up in points, rebounds, and shooting percentage.  Might want to add toughness to his resume this season. Turns out he's been playing with a broken hand. 
Following the Sixers home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 9, coach Doug Collins said that forward Elton Brand had gotten "karate chopped" on the back of his left hand and that the hand was very sore.

In subsequent games, Brand was wearing padding to protect the hand, which was noticeably swollen for a few days after. Turns out, Brand suffered a "very minor fracture," a team source said. Brand has not missed any time since the injury and shed the protective padding in the middle of a loss to Utah, just three games later.
via Elton Brand has been playing with a small fracture in his hand | Philly | 04/05/2011.

I don't know about you, but I'd miss time with a broken hand at my job. And I don't, you know, play basketball for a living. Brand has played through a broken hand, even if it was "very minor" and kept up his production.

No one saw Brand making a recovery production-wise this season. Perhaps more impressive than just ticking up in various box score areas is that Brand has managed to do so in efficient ways. His usage is down, but his production is up, and his turnovers are down. In short, Brand is doing more with less.  And apparently he's able to do it with 1.75 hands, which is pretty impressive. 
You'd think the Sixers would want to give Brand some time before the start of the playoffs, but given their approach this season, he'll probably push through. The Sixers are basically a roving band of Warriors fighting anything that gets in their way at this point. 
Posted on: April 4, 2011 9:00 pm

Pau Gasol day-to-day with a bone bruise

Pau Gasol's injury not serious, as he's listed day-to-day. 
Posted by Matt Moore

This is the spring of close-calls, injury wise, for contenders. The Celtics dodged a bullet when Nenad Krstic was diagnosed with a bone bruise and no tear, and then Shaquille O'Neal managed not to go down with an Achilles' injury and just a calf strain. And now the Lakers have their own injury to be... thankful for? 

The Lakers announced Monday afternoon that an MRI on Pau Gasol's leg (injured Sunday in a loss to Denver) revealed a bone bruise, nothing more. He's listed as day-to-day. 

When Gasol came down wrong against the Nuggets, Lakers' fans seasons flashed before their eyes. It served as a reminder that getting homecourt advantage in the West is nice, but making sure the team is healthy once the second season begins is paramount. Losing Gasol would scuttle the Lakers' title hopes barring a miraculous run. That isn't to say the Lakers would be completely out of it because, well, they're loaded, but it would be significantly more of a challenge. That's what Gasol means to them. 

The Lakers should take the most precautionary approach possible with Gasol, and the rest of the Lakers' starters. There's just no reason to risk an MRI that wouldn't come back as gently when the Lakers know they can win on the road. There's a balance to be struck. Somehow, it's easy to think no matter what the Lakers decide to do, it'll work out right. That's kind of the pattern for them.
Posted on: March 22, 2011 10:14 am

Rudy Gay out for the season

Rudy Gay will miss the rest of the season after shoulder surgery. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Rudy Gay has been on the shelf for a while with a shoulder injury. First he was expected back in two weeks. Then it was taking longer than expected, and it turned into a month. Now, his season is over. 

The Memphis Commercial-Appeal reports that after a second opinion was sought for Gay in Alabama from a shoulder expert, Gay has told the paper that his season is over, as he'll need surgery.

Have I mentioned that the Grizzlies gave Gay a five-year, $84 million contract this summer? Have I mentioned that the Grizzlies are looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since the departure of Pau Gasol? Have I mentioned they're still chasing their first playoff win for Memphis? Have I mentioned the team is finally in a place to have consistent efforts and contributions from multiple positions on the floor, from the bench, and on both sides of the ball? 

This news is the kind of momentum killer that ends seasons.  It'll be up to players like Tony Allen, Shane Battier, Zach Randolph, and new leader Mike Conley to keep the ship right, in the face of an extremely difficult schedule, a rising Rockets team only two games back, and missing their best player. Zach Randolph may be their biggest star and their most important player, but Rudy Gay was capable of attacking from ther perimeter with jumpshots and attacking the basket, snatching rebounds, starting the break, creating steals, distributing, and rising for cltuch shots. Without him, they are a dangerous team with a good defense, veteran leadership, an All-Star caliber forward, and good chemistry. But without him they also lack the kind of star needed to make pushes in the playoffs. Their odds were not good in a likely matchup with San Antonio. 

Barring one of the most shocking runs in the history of the NBA, the Grizzlies have had a firm cap put on their season, once again. Them's the breaks. 
Posted on: March 21, 2011 10:43 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2011 4:30 pm

Duncan (ankle) out next 3 games, possibly weeks

Tim Duncan reportedly out 2-3 weeks with an ankle injury. 
Posted by Matt Moore and Ben Golliver.

Update (Tuesday)

The San Antonio Spurs informed the media on Tuesday that an MRI on Tim Duncan's left ankle confirmed the sprain, but that the team has not yet set an official timetable for his recovery. Duncan will miss at least the next three games, however, as he will not travel on the team's upcoming road trips which includes games at the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies

MySanAntonio.com reported that the Spurs said Duncan's ankle sprain was between "grade one and grade two" and that the Spurs plan to release an official timeline later this week. The diagnosis is relatively good news, because a grade three sprain is really bad. Still: anything worse than a grade one sprain will keep a player sidelined for multiple weeks. 

Original Post: Tim Duncan is reportedly out 2-3 weeks according to Sean Elliot of the Spurs' broadcast network via Art Garcia of NBA.com after spraining his ankle against the Warriors in the Spurs' win Monday night. This wasn't via an official release, but does sound in line with what you would expect given there being no reason to rush Duncan back prematurely.

The timing isn't all that terrible for the Spurs, who have been resting Duncan on and off for the past few weeks with such a considerable lead in the Western Conference playoff race. But he'll have to try and recover in time to get back for the playoffs, and then the concern of course is getting back into a rhythm with him. Luckily the Spurs are likely to face either the Grizzlies or Rockets in the first round, two teams they have considerable matchup advantages over (though the Grizzlies could be probelematic). All things considered, this one could have been a lot worse, but it's also yet another disturbing sign as the Spurs come off one of their most successful regular seasons in team history with significant concerns about their ability to reach the Finals. 

In the meantime, DeJuan Blair will get even more time, and this means the Spurs will be trotting out the most hilarious frontcourt tandem, ever: DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner, otherwise known as "Please Score On Us In The Paint At Your Own Discretion." It's like a trance band, only with an unhealthy love of Pitt basketball and sandwiches. 
Posted on: March 11, 2011 10:58 am

Steve Nash suffering through pelvic injury

Steve Nash struggling with pelvic injury, may miss Sunday game against Orlando Magic.
Posted by Matt Moore

Steve Nash always plays through pain. He suffers with a back condition that would have put most players on the shelf years ago, but thanks to his rigorous diet and conditioning program he's managed to play through it. Now, though, he's suffering from a pelvic injury that is both painful and restrictive to his play, and which may leave him unavailable for Sunday's game against the Orlando Magic. From the Arizona Republic

The quickest Steve Nash moved all night was out of US Airways Center after the game.

Talking again about playing through pain and taking another whipping from Denver was probably not high on his list as he exited the arena the back way. Nash said he wanted to keep playing through his injury pubic symphysis irritation but Thursday night's effort put him closer to taking Sundays ABC game against Orlando off than he had been entering Thursday night.
via azcentral.com blogs - Coros Orange Slices - PaulCoro - Nash hurts, Gortat blurts.

The Suns are starting to crack a little bit under the strain and Nash missing any significant time could be a death knell for their playoff hopes. In the strictest sense, Nash is their best player and most important. Nash played just 27 minutes against the Nuggets Thursday, taking only four shots. Perhaps worst of all, the injury is restricting his abilities in Dance Revolution. The injury is more than just a normal groin pull and the effect must be considerable for Nash to be discussing missing a pivotal game against a playoff team.

The Suns' goals at this point are a little unclear. Sure, the playoff revenue would be nice, but isn't the long-term health of Nash paramount to obtaining the 8th seed and being swept from the playoff beaches by a superior Spurs squad? Then again, Suns' management from ownership down hasn't exactly made a lot of sense over the past few years. 
Category: NBA
Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:43 pm

Bogut to have elbow surgery after season's finish

Andrew Bogut plans arthroscopic surgery on elbow at season's end. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Andrew Bogut missed the Bucks' playoff run last season and the beginning of this season after a fairly terrible elbow injury. But he hasn't been the same, as his points per game are down five points and his shooting perentage is down 4 percentage points. He's been open about not being anywhere near 100% healthy, and eventually that has to be his priority. 

As a result, Bogut told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he's planning on elbow surgery after the season is finished to clean up the scar tissue in that elbow. It's just arthroscopic surgery, but it'll still mean an impact on his offseason training. 
"I want to have it straight away just to get a head start on the rehab and get back in the gym," Bogut said. "I want to shoot the basketball a lot this summer. The more time I can get out on the floor working on my shot, the better."

There's no telling on how long it will take Bogut to get back to full strength, but it's yet another in a very long line of injury issues that seem to keep Bogut from being the franchise center he's shown so many flashes of being. 

The Bucks are two and a half games back of the 8th playoff spot in the East. 
Posted on: March 7, 2011 3:51 pm

Frye out 2-3 weeks from dislocated shoulder

Posted by Royce Young

The streaking Suns were dealt a pretty big blow Sunday against the Thunder as power forward Channing Frye was forced to leave with about six minutes remaining from a dislocated shoulder.

He returned to the bench soon after having it popped back into place, but didn't return to the game.

The team announced Monday that Frye had an MRI that revealed it was indeed a dislocated right shoulder and that he's now expected to miss two-to-three weeks.

Frye has been playing extremely well as of late, pulling in a career-high 15 rebounds against the Thunder before exiting Sunday. Phoenix has won 20 of its last 28, largely due to players like Frye stepping up as well as the new pieces settling in.

Without Frye, the Suns will likely start Hakim Warrick at power forward, but will likely use Marcin Gortat more alongside Robin Lopez. Maybe to replace Frye's outside touch Phoenix will even choose to go small with Jared Dudley at the 4.

Currently, the Suns are just 1.5 games out of eighth in the West but without Frye, maintaining over the next couple weeks will be a challenge.
Category: NBA
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