Injuries always play a factor into which team eventually wins the championship.
In every sport, a lot of the time it may not be the best team that wins the championship, but the healthiest team.
The Chicago Bears looked like a serious playoff contender this recent football season until Jay Cutler went down with an injury that kept him from playing the rest of the season. Because of Cutler's injury, the Bears faded down the stretch and missed the playoffs. Who knows how far the Bears could have gone had Cutler been healthy.
Two years ago, the Los Angeles Lakers may not have beaten the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals had Kendrick Perkins been healthy for the last two games.
There are too many examples to point to about how detrimental injuries can be for a team's chance at winning a championship.
Injuries are part of the game. Overcoming those injuries is half the challenge.
NBA teams can only carry 12 guys on their active, ready-to-play roster. When injuries happen, they're crucial.
When key players go down with injuries, like Chauncey Billups recently, it's tough to replace that kind of production.
The lockout shortened season hasn't done the players any favors health-wise. With teams playing so many games in such a short time, key players are going down left and right.
There's little time for injured players to get healthy.
Here's a list of seven injuries that will matter most come NBA Playoffs:
Zach Randolph was one of the best players in last year's NBA playoffs.
Because of a torn right medial collateral ligament though, Randolph has only played four games this season. Playing most of the season without Randolph, the Memphis Grizzlies are a .500 team.
If the playoffs started today, the Grizzlies would miss the playoffs.
According to CBSSports.com, Randolph is expected to be out until at least late February. His injury is crucial because the Grizzlies may not even make the playoffs. If Randolph were healthy, the Grizzlies would certainly have a better record.
Without him, they're nothing more than an average basketball team.
When Randolph does eventually return to the lineup, the Grizzlies are going to have to go on a serious run, or else they'll be watching the playoffs at home on their couch.
Like the Grizzlies, the New York Knicks are in danger of even making the playoffs.
The Knicks have one of the worst backcourt situations in the league. If Baron Davis were healthy, you would have to believe that the Knicks would be better.
Even when Davis is not playing at his best, he's still better than Iman Shumpert, Mike Bibby, Toney Douglas and even their newest star in Jeremy Lin.
Getting Davis back and healthy is crucial for the Knicks' chances at making the playoffs.
But no one knows when Davis will return to the court. It was recently revealed that he stopped his workouts because of an infection in his right elbow.
Though Davis' injury has been a killer to the Knicks all season, the team may now have bigger problems injury wise.
Nothing seems to be going right for the Knicks.
Obviously, this is a killer for the Knicks.
The team is already four games under .500. On top of the Anthony and Davis injury setbacks, Amar'e Stoudemire is also expected to miss some time to mourn the loss of his brother, who died in a car crash early this week.
Hopefully Anthony can make a full recovery.
The Knicks are going to need him to be close to 100 percent if they are going to have any shot at making the playoffs this season.
The Atlanta Hawks, who are 17-9, are playing well without him right now, but if they are going to make a serious playoff run, they'll need Horford back at full strength.
Horford had been playing well before his injury.
With him in the lineup, the Hawks have one of the deepest teams in the league.
If they can get him back in time, they could give both the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat problems in the playoffs.
Denver Nuggets leading scorer Danilo Gallinari will miss at least four weeks with a "significant" ankle sprain.
This hurts the Nuggets, but not as much as an injury to someone like Carmelo Anthony hurts the Knicks. Though Gallinari is the Nuggets leading scorer, the reason the Nuggets are playing at such a high level so far this year is the fact they play like a team every night.
They have no "me" guys.
Ankle sprains are tricky because even though you might be able to play with them, they are very easy to re-injure.
The Nuggets won't fall too far in the standings because of Gallinari's injury. But if he's not fully healthy come playoff time, the Nuggets might be in trouble. Gallinari looks like an emerging star with his recent play. The Nuggets can win in the regular season with their team ball, but in the playoffs they'll need a guy they can rely on in late situations.
After tearing his left Achilles, Chauncey Billups will miss the remainder of the season.
This is a huge blow to the Los Angeles Clippers. Billups had been playing well for the team, including a recent 32-point explosion against his former team, the Nuggets.
The Clips will miss Billups the most though come playoff time. His veteran leadership and playoff experience is crucial for a new contender like the Clippers, and without him their experience just goes down that much more.
On a side note: it's always sad when a veteran player goes down with a season ending injury. As a fan, you never know how much longer they can play. If Chauncey Billups' career is done, which he says it is not, I'm going to remember it very fondly.
He's been involved in so many big games over the years. I hope his recovery goes smoothly.
Lastly, Derrick Rose has been banged up all season long.
He's currently battling turf toe, and had to leave the Bulls game against the New Jersey Nets because of back spasms on Monday night.
Rose's nagging injuries have to scare Bulls fans.
Because of the lockout-shortened season, D-Rose doesn't have as much time to heal as he would in a regular season.
The Bulls can't beat the Heat or other strong teams if Rose isn't healthy, as too much of their success relies on his production.
Hopefully Rose can get healthy quick. Otherwise, the Heat may as well punch their tickets to the NBA Finals.