Here we are, 10 games or so away from one of two endings for all NBA teams. They're either headed to the playoffs in various states of readiness, or they're headed to the lottery and the promise of a better tomorrow.
There's no team that personifies both, and the perils of these scenarios, like the Los Angeles Lakers. Beset all season by injuries, coaching changes and bad chemistry, the Lakers still, on pure talent, were able to hang on and maybe sneak into the Western Conference playoffs. There, who knows what could happen? Instead, the end of the season brought a physical breakdown that has likely pushed them into an area this franchise simply hasn't been.
Around the league, there appears to be a dividing line between teams that have managed to avoid, or at least adjust to, injury and the teams that didn't. Wasn't it just last year that the "compressed schedule" was going to be the downfall of players and lead to increased injuries? The long NBA season appears to break many, but it may be as much about wearing them down over time as it is about wearing them down due to a lack of rest.
Maybe we'll all look back at this basketball season and realize that what NBA teams do is for the most part, not working, and that only a handful of teams really have a handle on managing the medical side of things. For all the hope that statistical analysts are bringing to teams, an increased focus on the medical and conditioning side might bring quicker results.
Let's take a look around the Association.