Because of the chaos surrounding playoff positioning in both conferences, few teams had the luxury of resting banged up players in the season’s final days.
That means a handful of teams will enter the postseason, beginning Saturday, with some concern about the health of a few key players. Obviously that's cause for concern for those looking to pick the eventual Finals winner.Here’s the latest:
Blake Griffin Not a Lock to Begin Playoffs
The Detroit Pistons did everything in their power to miss the playoffs. They went just 5-8 down the stretch, including an unfathomable four-game losing streak that meant they needed to win on the season’s final day to get in.
They picked up that victory but did so without Blake Griffin, who just can’t shake left knee soreness. It’s bad enough that he missed Wednesday’s must-win game, and when asked if he’d be ready for Game 1 against the Bucks, head coach Dwane Casey wouldn’t commit to it.
#Pistons Dwane Casey on Blake Griffin's status for playoffs: "There's always uncertainty but these few days off will help."— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) April 11, 2019
The Pistons face a mountain of a task going up against the overall No. 1 seed Bucks, but without a healthy Griffin the series will be nothing more than a laugher. The Pistons are just 2-5 this year when Griffin sits.
The Celtics are Banged Up…Again
A year ago the Celtics were without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward and still came through for NBA betting fans to make this Eastern Conference Final.
This time around they’ll be missing Marcus Smart and potentially Jayson Tatum, two key role players who change the entire dynamic of the roster. Smart was diagnosed with a torn oblique and will miss the next four-to-six weeks, while Tatum has missed the last two games with a left shin contusion. The Celtics will be fine without Smart in Round 1 but they’ll need a healthy Tatum as they go deeper into the postseason.
Bucks Begin Postseason Shorthanded
The good news is the Bucks’ core of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez is healthy and ready for the postseason. The bad news is Mike Budenholzer’s team is still lacking depth in some key areas, with both Malcolm Brogdon (foot) and Nikola Mirotic (thumb) on the mend. They’ve got more than enough to get it done in the first and second rounds, but depth becomes more critical late in the playoffs. Keep an eye on these two as the Bucks go deeper.
Steph Curry Should be Ready to Defend Title
The Warriors held their collective breath on Tuesday when Steph Curry turned his ankle in a meaningless game against the Pelicans, forcing him out of the contest in the first quarter.
He sat on Wednesday and head coach Steve Kerr expects him to be ready for Game 1, but anytime the league’s most important player pops up on the injury report it’s news, especially for fans of NBA Finals betting.
Can McCollum Shake Off Rust for Blazers?
The Blazers suffered a devastating blow a few weeks ago when center Jusuf Nurkic suffered a gruesome broken leg that ended his season. That injury came in the midst of a 10-game absence from shooting guard C.J. McCollum, who had been dealing with a strained left knee.
The Blazers were able to clinch the third seed in the West despite the injuries to their second and third best players, but they’ll need McCollum at full-strength for the postseason.
He was able to play in two of the Blazers’ final three games, averaging a modest 10.0 points on 31 percent shooting in 27.0 casual minutes. But he’ll be needed in a much bigger way against the Thunder in Round 1. Damian Lillard can only do so much. If McCollum’s not healthy, the Blazers could be looking at a second straight first-round exit.