As the second round of the NBA playoffs comes to a close, we have to look back and ask whether injuries decided every series. The Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and especially the Oklahoma City Thunder have to agree. Add Derrick Rose, a healthy Stephen Curry, or Russell Westbrook back into the mix and maybe things are different for the series.
I know I'm biased, but there's no way that even the strictest "injuries are part of the game" purists can say that this wasn't the single key factor in the playoffs. While there's no way to stop the kind of flukish, traumatic injury that took out Westbrook, there are certainly ways to reduce these kinds of injuries in the future.
On the other side of this coin, the maintenance and hard work done by the medical staffs have some of these teams healthy and ready, even after 90+ games. Players like Dwyane Wade aren't fully healthy, but they are close to full function. Managing injuries, chronic conditions and fatigue levels might be as important as any set play or defensive alignment.
We'll see if more teams watching the playoffs from home get the lesson. Medical management is a leading indicator of success in most sports. There may even be new ways to find advantages for teams that are looking for that "Moneyball" edge and don't have their own John Hollinger. For now, let's take a look around the Association.