According to Suns head coach Alvin Gentry, Robin Lopez will miss at least the first round of the playoffs. Lopez is currently battling a back injury that caused him to miss the final 10 games of the season. "The visit he had to the doctor was pretty positive, but still we're not having him for the playoffs, not for the first series, anyway," Gentry said. "It's not anything where we'll even take a remote chance."
During his Monday evaluation Lopez did not receive an epidural, and doctors said he is progressing well with his rehab.
Phoenix did not struggle in his absence but the improved defense that the Suns experienced after the All-Star break diminished in the past few weeks. After Wednesday night's victory over the Jazz, the playoff picture is officially set. The Suns will play the Portland Trailblazers, a team that Phoenix struggled against during the regular season. The only positive is that Portland might be without star guard Brandon Roy, who is currently deciding whether or not to forgo knee surgery.
So what does Lopez's injury mean in the long run for the Suns?
Phoenix is simply a better overall team with him the lineup. His size alone makes him a defensive force that can trouble any team's big man. Although he diminishes the range that the Suns have with Channing Frye on the court, Lopez is a very efficient scorer, making nearly 59 percent of his field goal attempts.
Frye and Jarron Collins have filled in at Center, while Alvin Gentry has used a combination of players, including Amar'e Stoudemire and Lou Amundson, to give the Suns a different look. Phoenix can afford to lose him for the first round, and quite possibly the second (if they make it that far), but if they want to go deeper than that they will need Lopez to do it.