Injuries to stars, plethora of great players opens up NBA championship race

By Joe Giordano || Sports Editor

Photo courtesy of fansided.com

In five seconds on Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors went from odds on favorites to win the NBA Championship this June, to a possibly vulnerable team. Their star forward Kevin Durant went out with a knee injury very early on in the first quarter and was forced to be removed from the game. Warrior’s fans around the country held their breath and waited anxiously for the results of the tests on their star.

The results came back and they were not good. An MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise later and the Warriors suddenly seemed beatable and the other teams in the NBA are certainly taking notice.

When Durant signed with Golden State back in July, everyone in the country wondered how in the world this team could possibly lose. A roster already boasting all-stars like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Warriors seemed all but certain to take home the trophy. However, this injury to Durant, on top of his uncertain status, has opened things up for teams like the Cavaliers and Spurs to stake their claim in the race.

Whenever you have LeBron James on your team, you have a chance. And the Cavaliers certainly have a chance, especially now with Durant’s injury. The defending champions have been in command of the Eastern Conference all season long, amassing an impressive record of 42-18.

James, along with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, are looking to repeat and bring home their second straight title back to Cleveland. After their thrilling 7-game series against the Warriors in last year’s finals, I’m sure no basketball fan would complain about the two teams running it back, even if Durant is not available for the series.

While many are giving Golden State the free pass back to the finals, there’s a team from San Antonio who has other plans. The San Antonio Spurs have been playing excellent basketball all season long and truly believe they can take out Golden State if given the opportunity. Sitting at 47-13 and 2.5 games back from Golden State, the Spurs have what it takes to overtake Golden State in the regular season standings and earn themselves home court advantage throughout the playoffs. While this may seem insignificant, if the Western Conference Finals comes down to a game 7, I’m sure the Spurs would rather play at home rather than in the raucous and wild Oracle Arena.

The Durant injury, while unfortunate for the Warrior’s star, has opened up the league and given it limitless possibilities for how the season could play out. Teams like the Cavaliers and Spurs now have a real opportunity to shake things up and give the Warriors major problems in the playoffs. In addition, teams like the Boston Celtics or the newly formed New Orleans Pelicans duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins also are looking to throw their name in the hat of possible champions come June. The last few months of this season will no doubt be exciting and promise to provide what will certainly be a memorable playoffs.

Junior Joe Giordano is the Sports Editor. His email is jgiorda1@fandm.edu.

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