Athletic trainers and medical staffs around the NBA had their hands full to begin March as numerous players went down with a variety of ailments. Fantasy owners should begin to closely monitor a player’s status with the fantasy playoffs inching closer.
The top fantasy weapon is expected to be sidelined for at least one game as Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant recovers from a sprained left ankle. Durant suffered the injury in a win over the Pacers, after stepping on the foot of Tyler Hansbrough. He left the locker room in a protective boot and did not partake in Thursday’s practice. While the thought of Durant in a walking boot does not excite many fantasy owners, take solace in the fact that he is in a boot and partially weight-bearing and not hobbling around on crutches, unable to put weight on the foot. The left ankle has been an issue for Durant throughout the season, causing him to miss two games in November following another sprain. The swelling appears to be minimal and while the Durantula would not rule himself out for Friday’s game in Atlanta, it seems likely he will miss at least one game. Coach Scott Brooks will insert James Harden into the starting lineup until Durant returns.
The Hawks will be without their high-flyer as well in Friday’s game against the Thunder. Josh Smith will not play after sustaining a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee. Smith says the knee primarily causes him problems when cutting, not surprising given that the MCL plays a key role in maintaining knee stability during lateral or side-to-side movement. The team is currently awaiting the MRI results, which will provide better insight to the amount of time Smith is expected to miss. Marvin Williams and Al Horford will shoulder more of the load both offensively and defensively while Smith is out.
The Mavericks will be a man down on Friday with center Tyson Chandler nursing a sprained right ankle. He suffered the sprain early in the first half of a win over the Sixers and did not return for the remainder of the game. X-rays were negative but the Mavericks have already ruled their defensive anchor out for the team’s next two contests. Chandler has already begun hyperbaric treatment designed to accelerate the healing process by increasing the oxygen concentration in the body’s tissues. The injury will allow Brendan Haywood a chance to salvage some of what has been a disappointing season for the center. Haywood signed a lucrative deal in the offseason but lost his starting position to the resurgent Chandler. He could be a decent source of rebounds for teams looking for help near the conclusion of the week. Dallas is slated to play the Pacers and Memphis, two teams in the bottom half of opponent rebounding. Ian Mahinmi will serve as the backup center for the Mavs.
After dissecting the Perkins trade and discussing the poor health of Boston big men in last week’s article, it was only fitting when Glen Davis joined his teammates in the athletic training room. Davis suffered a left knee injury while attempting a dunk in recent game against Phoenix. A subsequent MRI revealed no structural damage but did turn up some inflammation on his patellar tendon. The team is calling the injury a strained patellar tendon, a common injury when the knee is hyperextended. However Davis stated the knee has been an issue all season and the recent incident likely irritated an existing case of patellar tendinitis. Big Baby has already been ruled out of Friday’s game and is expected to miss at three-to-five more days. With Boston gearing up for the playoff run do not be surprised if Davis gets an extended break or the occasional game or two off upon his return. With Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal already sidelined, expect the Celtics to turn to three new members, Nenad Krstic, Jeff Green, and Troy Murphy, to fill Davis’ minutes.
After playing just eight minutes in his Thunder debut, Nate Robinson will miss four-to-six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee. The former Slam Dunk Champion first reported discomfort on Monday and the team felt surgery now was the best course of action. Robinson’s fantasy value took a hit when he was traded from Boston to Oklahoma City and the injury only further diminishes it.
Kendrick Perkins, the other component of the deadline deal between Boston and Oklahoma City, will have to wait at least one more week if not two before making his Thunder debut. Perkins continues to recover from a MCL sprain in his left knee. Unlike the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the MCL is capable of healing on its own and simply needs time to improve. Perkins will likely receive treatments such as therapeutic ultrasound and electrical stimulation, designed to aid in pain management and make the injured area more conducive to cell-repair. Veteran Nazr Mohammed will man the center position until Perkins’ return and could be worth a look in deeper leagues. Mohammed scored eight points and collected seven rebounds in his first game as a member of the Thunder.
Vince Carter will be inactive Friday after sustaining a head injury and mouth laceration in a collision with teammate Channing Frye. Carter was still experiencing dizziness two days following the injury and it is likely he has a concussion. He will remain sidelined until the symptoms have cleared. Frye, who suffered an eye contusion in the collision, will suit up Friday against the Bucks. Mickael Pietrus will get the start in place of Carter.
Chauncey Billups sat out the Knicks’ win over the Hornets on Wednesday and will not play in Friday’s game against the Cavaliers. Billups is recovering from a thigh contusion suffered during a collision with Dwight Howard’s knee. The anterior thigh is the location for the quadriceps muscles. This muscle group is responsible for straightening the leg (knee extension) and raising the thigh (hip flexion). When a direct blow to the area occurs, a contusion will develop. The severity of the contusion is graded on the amount of damage and the resulting limitation. A simple or Grade 1 contusion is considered superficial with little to no swelling and no muscle limitations while Grade 4 contusions are considered severe and are often accompanied by an intramuscular hematoma. It is likely Billups suffered a Grade 1 or 2 contusion and the veteran guard should be able to return at some point during the upcoming week. Toney Douglas has performed admirably in Billups’ absence, scoring 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting in the win over New Orleans.
Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for Rotowire.com. You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.