The makeup of the NBA Playoffs has dramatically shifted again, with news that Chris Paul broke a bone in his right hand during the fourth game of the Clippers’ first round series against the Blazers and is likely to miss the rest of the playoffs. Blake Griffin also injured his quad muscle during the game and is questionable for Game 5. As soon as Steph Curry’s injury seemed like it created a golden opportunity for the Clips, their own star point guard went down and now they’re uncertain to even make it out of the first round.
That’s the nature of the NBA Playoffs, which saw the Western Conference remain pretty unscathed through last postseason — not coincidentally, the top seed won every series last year. Now, two of the NBA’s signature stars will miss extended chunks of time. Paul’s return, if it comes at all, would have to be in the NBA Finals according to his doctors’ timetable, and with the Spurs and Thunder still at full strength (knock on wood), that doesn’t look likely. More immediately, the Clippers are now even with the Blazers, 2-2, and will be missing their best player (and possibly their two best). They’re in a fight now to get out of the first round.
All things considered, this is an extremely lucky break for the Warriors. The Blazers are a proud team that now has a good shot to advance over the reeling Clippers, but our money wouldn’t be on them advancing past the Warriors even without Curry: They simply don’t have enough scoring options to beat what will be a swarming defense. If the Dubs can get past either Portland or the short-handed Clips, then Curry will hopefully be back in time to take on either the Spurs or Thunder in the Conference Finals. Of course, at this rate, whoever’s healthiest might just take the whole damn thing.