Luc Mbah a Moute Doesn't Trust Shoulder, Won't Dunk After Scoreless Game 1

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2018

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 14:  Luc Mbah a Moute #12 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball against the Golden State Warriors during Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 14, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

As evident by Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, injuries have affected the way Houston Rockets power forward Luc Mbah a Moute plays.

Mbah a Moute went 0-of-6 from the floor in a 119-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday night, including a few near the rim. The 10-year veteran blames recent shoulder troubles for his struggles.

"No, I can't dunk it right now. I don't trust it yet," Mbah a Moute told ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "A lot of those plays, usually they are dunks, plays I had tonight. It was just like hesitating between dunking and trying to finish when guys are coming at you. It's a little tough, but I'll make that adjustment."

The 6'8", 230-pound big man did not score in 17 minutes of action against Golden State.

Mbah a Moute has dealt with a dislocated right shoulder twice this season. He was sidelined for 15 games spanning from December to January, and he missed the regular-season finale as well as the first round of the playoffs after being injured during a meaningless game. 

The common theme of the injuries? Dunking.

"I think it's more mental than anything," Mbah a Moute said, via MacMahon. "Both times it happened dunking, so I guess mentally I don't want to take a risk. I'm not saying it's going to happen again, but you've got to get over the hump, and it comes with practice and playing."

Mbah a Moute has averaged just 3.3 points on 25.9 percent shooting this postseason since returning from injury. The 31-year-old averaged 7.5 points on 48.1 percent shooting during the regular season.

Of course, his value to the Rockets comes primarily defensively. While he has struggled offensively, he has still managed to grab 3.2 rebounds per game along with 0.7 blocks.

Only Mbah a Moute knows how much the injury is truly affecting him on the court. But with a championship on the line, he knows it's up to him to find ways to be effective:

"That's been the hardest part, just trying to get back into my rhythm. Small, little things—trusting it. Tonight, some of the layups, I tried to quick shoot it because I don't trust it yet.

"I wish everything was perfect, but you've got to make adjustments. That's going to be my challenge, to find a way to get it done."

Houston will try to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET.


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