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NBA Injury Analysis: In Street Clothes...

In Street Clothes...
by Jim Russo
RotoWire Injury Expert

Kevin Garnett

There's a couple big men/big names on the radar this week with regards to injuries, most notably Kevin Garnett of the Celtics. Garnett injured his right knee during a game February 19th and after some tests were performed the following day, we learned he has a posterior strain in his knee, and he could miss the next two to three weeks. Obviously that's a vague diagnosis, but it does tell us a few things.

A strain is an injury to a muscle, so the big ligament injuries we always look for, a.k.a the ACL, PCL (posterior cruciate ligament), MCL (medial collateral ligament) and LCL (lateral collateral ligament) should all be intact. Also, the meniscus and all that articular cartilage we discussed last week appear to be healthy. Those are all good things, and should take the thought of Garnett needing surgery out of anyone's mind, at least for the time being.

When you hear about a muscle strain in the back of the knee, you're usually thinking either the hamstring tendons or the popliteus muscle. Most of us have heard of the hamstrings before. They're a group of three muscles that occupy the back of the thigh, traveling from the upper part of the posterior pelvis, down across the back of the knee joint to the tibia and fibula. Usually hamstring strains involve the muscle belly in the back of the thigh but they can also affect their tendons which is what actually crosses the knee joint and connects to the lower leg. Their action is to extend the hip and flex or bend the knee. The hamstrings play a big part in slowing us down when running and stabilizing us when jumping.

In the fantasy sports world, the hammy is as well-known as the the popliteus is unknown. It's a very small muscle located in the back of the knee joint and its action is to begin the process of bending the knee. From there the hamstrings take over but they need the popliteus to start the action. Either way Garnett is looking at some time in the Trainer's Room to strengthen his knee and then start a gradual return to running and playing basketball. Again, this should not be a season ending or altering injury for Garnett, but you have to figure the C's will be cautious with him nonetheless. They definitely have loftier aspirations that the next few weeks on the regular season schedule.

Tim Duncan

The prognosis for Tim Duncan should be even better. We've seen this from the Spurs before -- resting key players with relatively minor injuries during the regular season with a target and focus on the postseason -- and who can argue with the results? Maybe some fantasy owners who count on the reliable Duncan for consistent numbers, but I doubt Spurs ownership is too concerned with that. According to reports Duncan is dealing with tendonosis in his right quadriceps. He missed two games this week, and will be a game time decision for tonight's matchup with LeBron and the Cavs.

Tendonosis is a term often used interchangeably with tendonitis, basically inflammation to a tendon, or the connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone. But to be more precise, tendonitis relates to the early stages of inflammation in a tendon while tendonosis refers to long-standing symptoms that can actually lead to degenerative changes in the structure of the tendons. Either way, this is something that is treatable with physical therapy and various stretching and massage techniques so Duncan should be available soon. Keep an eye out anyway because as we said, there are other factors at stake here.

Greg Oden

Now another update from last week. Greg Oden apparently won't need surgery to correct the bone chip that is affecting his left knee, and team doctors have assured coach Nate McMillan and Oden that he can play, maybe in some pain, but this will not become a long term problem. Granted, that sounds reassuring, and it's not the knee he had microfracture surgery on last season, but it's still an issue. Despite that optimistic outlook from Portland's medical staff, he has missed four games already and is not guaranteed to suit up tonight either, so many out there, probably even some of his teammates and front office staff, will wait with some doubt. To me, until he proves otherwise, it's going to be hard to expect big things from this big man until he makes it through a couple seasons without any injury setbacks along the way.

Ben Wallace

The Cavs' Ben Wallace broke his right fibula during a rare 20-point defeat at the hands of the Rockets on Thursday night. He managed to play a bunch of minutes after he was inadvertently kicked on the outside of his lower leg by Yao Ming, but now he will need at least 4 to 6 weeks on the shelf before suiting up again. The fibula is a non weight bearing bone in the lower leg, so it's not surprising that he was able to continue playing initially, but it had to become painful at some point, forcing the x-ray that revealed the fracture. The treatment is simple: he'll be put in a walking boot for at least 2 to 4 weeks. He'll be able to condition on a bike and in a pool during that time, and then he'll start a gradual return to basketball. Four to six weeks is generally when you start to see some healing in bone, so that should be all it takes, and hopefully for the Cavs he makes it back before the start of the playoffs.

Jim Russo is a certified athletic trainer with a Master's Degree in Exercise Physiology.

Article first appeared on 2/27/09