Dwight Howard Says He Played Through A Torn MCL In The Western Conference Finals

Dwight Howard rarely, if ever, played at full strength last season. He appeared in just 41 games, never quite displaying the exceptional athleticism that made him a top-3 player back when he was in Orlando.

When he returned for the playoffs, he looked a little sharper but it was still clear he wasn’t moving quite the same way. After Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Howard was diagnosed with a knee sprain. He was listed as questionable, but still played through the sprain. However, as Howard told Mike Meltser on Texans Radio, his knee problems were actually much more serious.

Simply put, it’s amazing that Howard was able to play through those injuries, if that’s really what he was experiencing. In the opening round of the playoffs, when the Rockets faced the Dallas Mavericks, Howard resembled his old springy self. He was trapping pick and rolls and recovering with speed uncommon in a man so large. He easily exploded to the rim for dunk after dunk with vestiges of the former three-time Defensive Player of the Year and MVP runner-up in 2011.

However, once he injured his knee against against the Warriors in the Conference Finals, he turned into the regular season husk of his former self with only glimmerings of his game-changing ability to protect the rim. At the time, it was the escalating odometer on his knees that was to blame, but — according to Howard — it was much more serious than that.

Howard said he’s beyond all his injuries (as all players do at the beginning of every season), and it remains to be seen if his body can hold up for an entire season of NBA rigors.