Durant, Kobe, Kyrie, Malone ... injuries that changed Final

The absence of Kevin Durant can end the Warriors dynasty; we review the injuries that in last 20 years that have changed the eliminatory by the title


The Warriors are on the ropes. It's the first time they've been in this situation since they started their dynasty in 2015. Not even the following year, when they were beaten by the Cavs, they were as close as they are now. On that occasion they traced a 3-1 and ended up winning in Oakland, where they were favorites in the seventh. Now the result is the same but in reverse. Golden State plays the fifth game in Canada. It will be a win or go home for them. An encounter in which they will extend the series or see how the Raptors put an end to their dynasty.

One of the reasons why the Warriors are in this situation is the injury of Kevin Durant. The forward, who had to retire with discomfort against the Rockets, has not returned to play in these playoffs. The franchise has been speculating on its return in all the Finals, but now its presence in the fifth match seems more unlikely than ever.

La injury of the star, which comes from being the Finals MVP in the last two seasons, has not been the only one that has been in the last round of the playoffs throughout history. Numerous players have perished before, or during the qualifying rounds and have had to lose the fight for the ring. Not always the final result has been a defeat for the team whose player has been inactive, but the various absences experienced have caused these series to change to a greater or lesser extent.

Next, repasamos the injuries that have been in the Finals in the last 20 years, that is, from the first year after the withdrawal of Jordan. Some of these absences have been very loud in the League, and some of them caused a drastic change that ended with a winner different from the initially expected.

Pat Ewing in 1999

The first of these last 20 years. The Knicks reached the NBA Finals the year of the lockout after beating the Pacers in the Eastern finals in a tie in which they arrived as the eighth-ranked, something never seen before. They occupied the vacancy left by Jordan, withdrawn the previous year after winning his sixth championship.

Premisamente in the series before Indiana was where he injured Pat Ewing, a star that began to lose light and was in the last years of his career, but that was still very important for his people. He fell in the second game and saw how an impressive 3 + 1 Larry Johnson gave his team advantage at Madison, in a series that would end up falling on the side of the New Yorkers.

The star could not play the Finals against the Spurs and was Luxury spectator in the first ring of the particular dynasty that began at that time Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan that left by the way the dreams of a team that has not returned so close to a championship that they have not conquered since 1973. Jeff Van Gundy on the benches, Latrell Sprewell as a reference ... how the Knicks have changed.

Kobe Bryant in 2000

The following year there was an injury again in the Finals. This time it was Kobe Bryant's. Yellow fever re-emerged thanks to Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal as the most dominant man in the League. In the second match of the tie, Kobe, who was already second on board and who had rescued the Lakers in the Western finals (that seventh game), fell in suspension in the second game and was on the landing with the leg of Jalen Rose, who years later acknowledged that he injured his rival on purpose. The play was very similar to Pachulia and Kawhi in the first game of the Western finals of 2017, when they remembered again what happened 17 years earlier in a very dirty play and (unfortunately) very typical in the league.

The story did not end badly for the Lakers. Bryant would be low in the third, but he came back in the room playing undercover. O'Neal was eliminated by fouls in extra time and was Kobe, who with 8 points in overtime (28 in total), gave the Angels victory. Phil Jackson would declare in his book Eleven Rings that this was the first time that the young escort reminded him of Michael Jordan. Yes, it was Shaq's ring. The purple and gold would fall in the fifth, but sentenced in the sixth with the pivot in historical numbers (38 points and 17 rebounds average in those Finals) .

Karl Malone in 2004

Ona of the saddest. The legendary power forward was heading to Los Angeles with Gary Payton to win a ring that resisted him in the Jazz. And he ran out of prize. A year full of injuries for him ended in the playoffs, where he seemed recovered. However, caía in the fourth game of the Finals against the Pistons in a series where the LBrown rry (who finally won his ring) were far superior. The fifth they played without Malone, but the Angelenos, immersed in the Shaq-Kobe war throughout the year, were already sentenced. That fourth meeting of the fight for the title was the last for the star, who retired without a championship.

Andrew Bynum in 2008

Lakers again were the victim of a new absence in the Finals. This time the injury did not arrive in that round. Not in the playoffs either. It was in the regular season, in a game against the Grizzlies ... of Pau Gasol. The fall of the pivot caused that in Hollywood they squeezed and went for the Spaniard, who ended up in the Kobe Bryant franchise. The arrival of the international gave the team wings, but Bynum did not recover in time for a Finals in which they fell to the Boston Celtics of Garnett, Pierce, Allen and company. Phil Jackson always remembered the absence of the young center in that series, and in the future he would maintain that the story would have been very different with him on track.

Kendrick Perkins in 2010

The tables changed two years later. In the sixth game of the Finals, Perkins fell after fighting for a rebound suffering from knee pain and would not be for the seventh and final match to be played in Los Angeles. The green fans remembered a lot about this injury. The center was an insurance in defense and had won the title, and although a veteran star like Rasheed Wallace meritoriously covered his place in the final match, the rotation was slightly diminished by the absence of the player. Final result: second consecutive ring for the Lakers and fifth (and last) for Kobe. We will never know what would have happened to the player on the track. As we will never know what would have happened if Bynum had been two years before.

Cabe a parenthesis between these two years. In 2009, Garnett was injured before the playoffs and could not contest them. The Celtics, who came from winning the ring, fell in the seventh game of the semifinals of the Eastern Conference against the Magic in the Garden. The influence on the wing of the power forward, especially in defense, was tremendous, and in Boston they did not manage to overcome the second round without him. On the other hand, his executioner, Orlando, played without Jameer Nelson, All Star that year and injured mid-season. The base came back in the Finals ... against the Lakers. They are two very different cases that did not cause loss in the tie in which the title is decided, but it is worth mentioning them because of the importance that each one had in their respective teams.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in 2015

Of the recent injuries, they were probably those that had the most influence in Finals. LeBron returned to Ohio to form a big-three (another more) fearsome (a priori) along with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. However, both players would be injured before and during the Finals. The power forward fell in the first round against the Celtics, while the base would do the same in the Eastern finals against the Hawks, and although it was tested in the first round of the round in which the championship against the Warriors is decided , did not give more than itself.

These injuries allow a greater development, especially for bad tongues. The Cavaliers stood up and went 2-1 up despite the absence of these two players and thanks in large part to a superhuman LeBron (36 + 13 + 9 in those Finals). If we observe this fact we could arrive at a concern that fuels, and much, the debate of Durant himself or Durant no. In 2015, the Cavs were close to Golden State without two of their stars. The 2016 won with them (without Draymond Green in the fifth match ... but by penalty, not injury). And in the next two years, with Durant already in La Bahía, they did not smell the championship. This year without the forward are on the verge of defeat. Beware of that.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in 2019

The last, but not least. In all these years, it is the second time that the Warriors have lost two consecutive games in Oakland (where they still do not return) . The other one was in 2016. The absence of the wing is harming them in an increasingly clear way, and if in his absence we add that of the Thompson in the third shock, we see the results. An organized team with clear ideas such as the Raptors are about to end one of the greatest dynasties in history. A dynasty that can end ... because of injuries?

Other injuries

Obviously, injuries have been a constant in the NBA. We have focused on the last 20 years to be able to speak more clearly than there are currently, but in the past there have been more absences in the Finals and it is certainly something that will happen in the future. Kareem knocked out for the sixth game against the Sixers, and MagicJohnson had to take his place to make one of the most iconic and memorable games in history (42 + 15 + 7). Nine years later, it was the same Magic fell in 1989 in the third game against the Pistons and the Bad Boys went 3-0 and ended up winning a round to which the base no longer returned.

There have also been key injuries for teams that have not yet played in the tie in which the rings are played. Leonard fell in 2017 when his team was winning 20 in Oakland. Kobe was injured in 2013 before a playoff to which the Lakers reached the upside. They were not absences in the Finals, but they were equally important.

Injuries are part of the game, and will continue to be. They have left many players on the verge of retreat, they have changed dynasties, eras and finals. Only to see how Durant's will end, and how it will affect the franchise to see truncated (if the Raptors finally win) his dynasty. One of the biggest in history. That we do not forget.



Photos from as.com

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