- Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
- Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
- Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system
As the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns tipped off the NBA Finals Tuesday night, the other 28 teams watched from home. After a playoffs defined by injuries, an unusually large number of those teams could believe that — if not for a key absence — they might have been playing instead.
That does nothing to cheapen the accomplishment of the Bucks and Suns, who have overcome key losses themselves: Milwaukee reached the Finals without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed the final two games of their Eastern Conference finals win over the Atlanta Hawks, while Phoenix got off to a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals despite Chris Paul being in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Still, as the rest of the league looks ahead to the offseason, the results of the playoffs set up a fascinating dynamic. Instead of trying to get better to deal with the Bucks and Suns, many of the league’s top contenders may simply be hoping to get back to the point where they were favored to win the title at full strength.
A historic number of injuries during the playoffs
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