Lost in all the hoopla following the Los Angeles Clippers' thrilling comeback victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 was an injury to Caron Butler. He fractured his left hand during the third quarter after getting his hand caught in a screen, according to Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.
UPDATE: Saturday, May 5, 4:10 p.m. ET by Donald Wood
Less than a week after being diagnosed with a hand injury that would keep the forward out four-to-six weeks, Caron Butler will return to the lineup for the Clippers in Game 3.
Clippers.com insider Eric Patten is reporting on Twitter about the star’s status:
Coach Del Negro officially confirms Caron Butler will start at small forward— Eric Patten (@EricPatten) May 5, 2012
With LA fans and teammates expecting Butler out of the lineup for the remainder of the playoffs, the addition is something that could send the Clippers deep into the playoffs. If Butler can be effective, the Clip Show is going big time!
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UPDATE: Tuesday, May 1, 1:30 p.m. ET by Donald Wood
While the Los Angeles Clippers will not get star utility man Caron Butler back in the lineup for this playoff run, his broken hand is less serious than thought.
Talked to Caron Butler. No surgery, out 4-6 weeks.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) May 1, 2012
As much good news as this is for the Clippers going forward into next season, they could use his presence in the lineup now. Without Butler, Los Angeles is in a world of trouble in their first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
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Update: Monday, April 30th, 4:40 p.m. ET
News continues to pour in, and it's not good for Caron Butler, or the LA Clippers. NBA.com reports Butler sustained a fractured hand and may be done for the remainder of the postseason.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Caron Butler is likely out for the rest of the playoffs after breaking his left hand in Game 1 against Memphis.
The team said Monday that Butler is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks after getting hurt late in the third quarter...He broke the fifth metacarpal in his left hand and an X-ray taken at the arena during the game confirmed the injury.
The report states the Clippers small forward will miss at least four weeks. He scored 12 points before getting taken out of the game, which matches his season average. It's an untimely loss for the Clippers after such a key win.
Keep checking back for the latest updates on Butler's status.
What It Means
More important than Butler's scoring output was his veteran leadership abilities. He's been through his fair share of playoff runs, so he knows what it takes to win a championship. That's something the young Clippers otherwise lack.
It will be interesting to see how the Clippers react in key moments without him on the court. They did well in the comeback on Sunday night, but the Grizzlies aren't likely to blow another big lead like that. The Clippers will need to dig deep.
After so many seasons of being viewed as a laughing stock, it's really bad luck for the Clippers to suffer such a crucial injury right away in the playoffs. That said, they aren't the only team facing adversity with a number of marquee players going down early.
Which team will advance?
Nick Young will likely see an increase in minutes in an attempt to fill the void. He's more of a natural scorer than Butler, but doesn't bring the same defensive skill to the table. That's a trade off that actually worked well for the Clippers in Game 1.
Los Angeles would benefit from Butler hanging around the team to act like another coach. Like mentioned above, he's the type of veteran the team needs to provide a guiding light in order to advance to the next round an beyond.
The Clippers were able to take over home-court advantage with their win in the first game, so if they win at home, they'll move on. That's easier said than done, of course, especially without Butler.