This has “I told you so” all over it, but I can’t help it. After the Golden State Warriors dominated the Houston Rockets, I proposed that Stephen Curry simply sit the 2nd round series out vs. the Portland Trail Blazers and get at least 3 weeks of healing. Instead, the Golden State Warriors rushed Curry back in a little over 2 weeks. Although Curry was not awful for the rest of the playoffs, he definitely was not his MVP self. I blame this solely on the status of his right leg and having to endure two seven game series in a row. The thing about injuries is that re-injury is not always the only risk. Poor performance is just as bad as being unavailable in most cases, and we all saw that Steph played poor in game 7. The insiders for the team admitted to seeing Curry’s knee appearing red and swollen after games as he continuously received treatment throughout the playoffs. Steph himself would not go into detail about his injuries, but his tone said it all.
I know that the Golden State Warriors training staff is very capable, but I hope there is a lesson learned for the future here. Just because a player can take the court, doesn’t mean he should take the court. I believe that the Warriors would have taken care of the Blazers without Stephen Curry in the second round and at the very most Curry should have only played in the case of an elimination game. The extra rest would have allowed his to fully heal and may have made a big difference in the rest of the Warriors playoff run. I guess the Trail Blazers looked alive enough to scare the team into rushing their MVP back on the court and I believe this is at least part of the reason Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are celebrating right now.
In the end, poor usage of Injury Science may have cost the Golden State Warriors HISTORY.
All eyes will be on Steph Curry and Lebron James on Sunday night but in my opinion, there is someone else that will decide this game 7. If you watch enough basketball, you know that Tristan Thompson’s performance is very unlikely to be repeated on the road, as role players tend to only shine that bright at home. With the Cleveland role players coming back to earth, I think we can expect Lebron and Kyrie Irving to carry the load like they did in game 5. Additionally, we can assume that by returning home that the Warriors role players will step their games up. But there is one person that I bet no one is looking at as having the biggest role for Sunday night’s game….take your guess before you read on.
If you guessed Andre Iguodala you are the close, but not quite. Chelsea Lane is actually my guaranteed MVP for Sunday night. In her case the P stands for PhysioTherapist or as the Warriors label her “head performance therapist”. She is the lady who always has her collar popped on the sidelines. You probably noticed her massaging Andre Iguodala’s back in game 6.
When you go back to my theory that the role players for Cleveland will return to their shells, it leads you to the fact that stopping Lebron from scoring will be essential in the Warriors getting this win. No one in the world is better equipped to stop Lebron James than Andre Iguodala, but if his back is not allowing him to move, the Warriors are in big trouble. This leads us back to Chelsea Lane.
The status of Iguodala’s back will be mostly on Lane in preparation for game 7. While the exact diagnosis for Iguodala has not been reported, he appears to have a low back strain/sprain type injury. Generally this is a minor issue that does not take long to manage, however it does typically take more than 2 days. If this were more of a typical rehabilitation for a back injury, the responsibility is more of a shared burden between the player and the rehab staff; but in this case I put the majority of the task on the staff. Andre Iguodala will likely be receiving a regimen that is modality heavy over the 68 hours that separate game 6 and game 7. These modalities will help loosen and relax the injured area, while also helping healthy blood flow to the area to support healing. Additionally, Chelsea Lane is likely to give a good amount of manual therapy to the area to manipulate and mobilize the tissues in his low back.
It is doubtful that Iguodala will have much of an active role with his short-term therapy as this may lead to fatigue in his low back and therefore elevate his risk for recurrence during the game. This puts the ball almost solely in the hands of Lane and her staff to make sure that the reigning Finals MVP can help the Golden State Warriors win a second championship. While Lane will not be playing on Sunday night, she will need to be on her game during the break between games to likely decide the NBA champion. I literally believe the Warriors have no chance if she does not do her job well.
With an abundance of experience with these types of injuries and knowing the pedigree of Chelsea Lane, I am 1000 percent sure that Andre Iguodala will at least take the court on Sunday night. The measure of how well Lane manages this injury will be based on how long he can play. Back injuries are impossible to run from as your back has to be active in nearly every movement you make. For many patients I use back stability braces or other adaptive equipment to protect from re-injury; but with basketball players this is not much of an option due to the flexibility demands on the basketball court. Lane will simply have to hit that perfect balance of helping Iguodala be loose but not too loose, so that he can survive for about 30 minutes on the court. Furthermore, she will have to keep him loose when he is not on the court. I expect moist heat, bike riding, and anything else that will keep his low back warmed up.
In the end I believe the Physical Therapy that Andre Iguodala receives will decide the the NBA championship. With that said, I am betting on therapy and Chelsea Lane to succeed!
The hook here is not the Atlanta Hawks closing out the series against the Boston Celtics. The hook I am referring to is the one that may be coming for Isaiah Thomas after the 2 jabs he has taken with ankle sprains in consecutive games. With game 4 and game 5 concluding with Thomas experiencing a “tweak” to his left ankle, you can almost feel the knock out blow coming.
I love boxing and I love boxing analogies. I am currently reading Gary Vee’s book jab, jab, jab, right hook; I hit the heavy bag 2 or 3 times per week; and look forward to boxing matches more than almost any sport aside from football. The beauty of boxing is that once you really understand it, you can predict what is coming. For me, injuries are very similar. When I see a good boxer working their jab all fight; I know a straight right is coming. Once the straight right starts landing, you can expect the left hook. It’s a natural progression in the combination.
With Isaiah Thomas who seems to have a weak left ankle, there is also a natural progression. An ankle that proves to be weak will ask for help. This help may come in the form of taping or bracing; it may come in the form of asking his other joints to chip in a do a little more work. Either scenario will eventually end poorly. A joint that is helped too much causes an overall disruption in the chain of joints and heightens the chance of injury. A joint that is injured and not supported enough to protect it from further injury will eventually suffer a more serious injury. This means that Thomas is likely headed for a more serious ankle sprain or possibly a knee or foot injury on that left side. His probability of this happening will continue to progress if the Boston Celtics season can be extended and Brad Stevens continues his trend of playing his guards for huge minutes.
If you are investing in Thomas for fantasy basketball or picking the Celtics to tie this series up; I would at least consider that Isaiah Thomas is approaching red flag territory with his injury probability; and without him the Celtics do not have much of a chance.
Remember that Injury Science is real and these injuries are not just bad luck or random. While I may not have a hard data print out to show you Isaiah Thomas’ exact risk for injury (yet), you can trust that all the warning signs are there. The best thing for Thomas’ ankle will be a long rest. So while his mind will be pushing for game 7, his body may be shutting down for the off-season.