NBA Playoffs 2011: Will Louis Williams' Injury Affect Philadelphia 76ers' Hopes?
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
They may be without the services of Lou Williams, who has been out since April 2 with a strained hamstring. He was first expected to miss the regular season and the playoffs.
Now it looks like he might return for their first-round matchup.
The Sixers have surely missed Lou Williams' scoring off the bench. If he is not 100 percent for the playoffs, the Sixers' chance at an upset are slim to none.
Here is what Lou Williams brings to the Sixers and what they will miss in the playoffs if he cannot go.
His Ability to Score
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Lou Williams is the leading scorer on one of the best benches in the NBA.
He and Thaddeus Young provide almost 26 points off the bench each night. They both should be in the running for the NBA Sixth Man Award at the end of the season.
Williams is a flashy PG who can score in a variety of ways.
He can shoot the outside jump shot and can also drive down the lane and finish.
His 35-percent mark from downtown is good for third on the Sixers.
He Is a 3-Point Threat
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Since Kyle Korver left the team, the Sixers have been in dire need of a three-point threat.
Jason Kapono has been nonexistent as the team's new three-point specialist.
Countless times this season, Williams has hit a big three-pointer at the end of a close game.
He has improved his three-point field goal percentage in each of the last three seasons.
His Underrated Passing Abilities
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
Known for his scoring for the most part, Lou Williams is also a good passer. Lou is averaging 3.4 assists per game off the bench in only 23 minutes of action.
He also has controlled the amount of turnovers he commits. His assist-to-turnover ratio went from 1.6 in 2008 to 2.47 this season.
Williams is playing fewer minutes when he comes off the bench, so it is important for him to handle and take care of the ball.
He Is the X-Factor
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
14.5 PPG, 3.3 APG, .8 SPG, .424 FG%, .376 3P%
12.9 PPG, 3.4 APG, .5 SPG, .388 FG%, .320 3P%
I hope it is apparent that Lou Williams has a decent-sized impact on whether the Sixers win.
Williams has not started a single game this season, so it is not like he has time to warm up and get in the rhythm of the game.
Off the bench, he has to step right in and start making shots immediately.
In wins, that is what he does. Without Williams, the Sixers lose their X-Factor.
He Is the Spark Plug
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Every team needs its spark plug off the bench.
Each team needs a good player off the bench who can bring energy to a team that was beaten in the first quarter.
Lou Williams is that guy for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Since he was drafted to the Sixers in 2005, Williams only started multiple games in one season.
Williams knows his role with the Sixers: provide scoring and energy off the bench.
What Happens in the First Round?
We won't know until Game 1 of the playoffs whether or not Lou Williams is able to play.
If he does, it will be a huge relief for the Sixers. They get their spark and top-scoring threat off the bench.
If Lou does not play, the Sixers could be limited in their scoring abilities as a team.
If he is able to play, the Sixers will win probably one more game in the series. Against the Heat this season, Lou is averaging 14.3 points, five assists and is shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Still, the Heat present too many matchup concerns for Philadelphia.
Heat in five.