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NBA Injury Analysis: A Mess in Miami

Jeff Stotts

Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

The Miami Heat continue to battle media scrutiny and injury woes. The teamís top rebounder and key reserve Udonis Haslem is likely lost for the season after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured ligament in his left foot. Haslem tore the Lisfranc ligament while defending Memphis forward Zach Randolph late last week. In the foot there exists a joint known as the Lisfranc joint. Here the bones that make up the arch, the tarsal bones, come together with the long bones of the foot, the metatarsals. At the joint three ligaments converge to form the Lisfranc ligament. This normally durable ligament connects two of these bones, specifically the medial cuneiform and the second metatarsal. When torn, the stability and strength of the foot is compromised and the bones of the midfoot can dislocate. An injury like the one sustained by Haslem takes at least four months to heal and unfortunately can linger much longer. Fantasy owners have the green light to drop Haslem immediately. The Heat have tried to shore up their front line by signing veteran center Erick Dampier. Dampier showed flashes while in Dallas but has never been able to consistently contribute to make himself a reliable fantasy weapon.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade is dealing with an injury of his own as he play through a sprained left wrist. Wade sat out one game after falling on his wrist while attempting to take a charge. Although he has returned to action, the wrist sprain is clearly affecting his shot. In the two games Wade has played since the injury occurred, he is shooting 7-of-34 from the field and 6-of-12 from the free-throw line. The mechanics of a jumpshot, particularly the release of the ball, require a quick and strong wrist release. If a sprain is limiting the range of motion at the wrist then the shot will come out of the shooterís hand with improper arc, decreasing the accuracy of the shot. Expect Wadeís numbers to be down until the wrist is no longer an issue.

The Heatís injury issues donít stop there as Chris Bosh is playing through back spasms. Back spasms are generally associated with muscle strains of the lower back muscles. When these muscles are overstretched or overused and strained, the muscle tissue becomes inflamed. The tension in the inflamed tissue increases as the bodyís natural defenses kick in and force the muscle into spasms to limit motion. Once this occurs the affected athlete enters a vicious cycle known as the pain-spasm-pain cycle. Spasms result in pain which triggers more spasms and subsequently more pain. It is the responsibility of the medical staff and the athlete to break the cycle making movement easier and less painful. Modalities like heat and electrical stimulation can be utilized to aid in the recovery process. While Bosh was able to return to the game and isnít expected to miss any upcoming games, the situation is worth monitoring. Back strains tend to linger and can be easily aggravated. The timing is unfortunate as Bosh had just appeared to be finding his groove, averaging 23.9 points per game in Miamiís last five outings.

Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut is also dealing with back spasms and was inactive in a recent loss to the Cavaliers. Fortunately a MRI revealed no structural damage and the center plans on returning Saturday when the Bucks take on the Bobcats. Like with Bosh, keep an eye on Bogut over the next few weeks and have a capable backup ready should the injury flare up. Jon Brockman joined the starting lineup in Bogutís absence.

Bostonís Delonte West will miss an extended period of time after suffering a broken right wrist. The injury occurred when West attempted to brace himself from a fall following an attempted layup. Falling on an outstretched hand (known in the medical world as FOOSH) is the most common mechanism of injury for a wrist injury and is common in basketball. West is no stranger to this problem having broken the same wrist in 2009 while with the Cavaliers. Expect West to miss at least three months with rookie Avery Bradley and Westís sparring partner, Von Wafer, to get a bump in minutes. Marquis Daniels and Nate Robinson should also see an increase in responsibilities.

Golden Stateís David Lee continues to progress from an infected elbow that required an unexpected stay in the hospital. Lee has had the stitches from the left elbow removed as well as the peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) removed from his right arm. The PICC is similar to a standard IV that allows easy access to the venous system. A PICC is often utilized to provide antibiotics via IV for an extended period of time. Lee has been cleared to return to light conditioning and is targeting a November 30 return when the Warriors take on the Spurs.

In Chicago another power forward is nearing his return. Carlos Boozer is expected to return to practice next week, eight weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a broken metacarpal bone in his right hand. The Bulls would like to give Boozer several practice to adjust to the protective padding he will wear over the injury site. Mavericks guard Jason Terry wore a comparable glove in 2009 when he returned from a similar injury. Terryís injury occurred to his non-shooting hand and it still took him about five games to find his shooting rhythm. Expect Boozerís curve to be a bit steeper as the his injury occurred to his shooting hand. The Bulls are hoping to have Boozer back in uniform December 10 when they take on the Lakers.

Taj Gibson, the man filling in for Boozer, missed Chicagoís last game with a bruised right foot. While foot ailments can be a significant dilemma for big men, multiple examinations have revealed no structural problems or ligament issues and Gibson plans on returning Friday night against the Nuggets. Gibson has played well with Boozer sidelined, averaging 12.4 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

Jeff Stotts is a Certified Athletic Trainer, MAT, PES and the Injury Analyst for You can follow him on twitter @RotoWireATC.

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