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NBA Injury Analysis: Biceps and Necks

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.

Kyrie Irving
The Cavalier may be forced to continue their push for the postseason without the services of their All-Star point guard. Irving left early in the first quarter of the team's loss to the Clippers after suffering what is being called a biceps injury. On the play in which he was injured, Irving appeared to get his left arm hung up on Blake Griffin and the ball. He walked over to the Cleveland bench holding his arm and indicated to head athletic trainer Steve Spiro that the area of concern was near his shoulder. He left the arena in a sling.

While most people associate the biceps with motion at the elbow, it's important to keep in mind that it is a two-headed muscle that originates on the shoulder blade. The short head of the muscle attaches to the scapula at the coracoid while the long head attaches to supraglenoid tubercle. This long head actually runs into the glenohumeral joint and helps stabilize the humeral head during motion. It exits the cavity through the bicepital groove, an indentation in the humerus bone. This is precisely the area where Irving pointed to on the sidelines. The extent of the damage to the tendon or muscle belly will determine just how long Irving will be sidelined, though the Cavaliers already fear the worst. He's slated for an MRI Monday to determine his fate.

This type of injury is uncommon in the NBA, and the only comparable injury in recent years occurred in the 2005-06 season when Jamaal Tinsley partially tore his biceps. Tinsley would miss a total of 26 games recovering. However, his injury was near the elbow, opposite of Irving's current issue. Fantasy owners should anticipate at least a few games off and should begin scoping out potential replacements should the MRI reveal a season-ending injury. Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack would be in line for more minutes with Waiters holding the most upside.

Andre Drummond
The Detroit center is currently listed as day-to-day after suffering a minor neck injury against the Pacers. Drummond collided with Indiana center Roy Hibbert before falling to the ground holding his head and neck. A stretcher was wheeled onto the court, but Drummond was able to walk off under his own power. An MRI was performed on the area, and images did not reveal any damage to the surrounding ligaments. Drummond was likely examined for a concussion too though the team never stated it publically. He did mention feeling a shocking sensation throughout his body, suggesting a nerve injury like a cervical stinger may have occurred. However, the team has not expressed any concern for his long-term availability and hope to have him in uniform for their next game Wednesday in Denver. His previous back injury should not influence his current ailment.

Russell Westbrook
Westbrook will not play both games of some of Oklahoma City's upcoming back-to-backs as a precautionary measure to insure his availability for the postseason. After three knee surgeries in less than a year, the Thunder, led by head athletic trainer Joe Sharpe, have designed a plan to keep the All-Star guard protected and fresh for the playoffs. Sharpe and his staff should be trusted given their previous success with preventative care. Unfortunately the plan could have a serious side effect on fantasy rosters as OKC's next five games consist of two back-to-backs. After that, the team has three more back-to-backs to finish out the regular season. Westbrook will play Monday against the Bulls after receiving Sunday off. Reggie Jackson will see a boost in value in games in which Westbrook is unavailable.

Fast Breaks

Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash: Both Bryant and Nash will not play again this year in what will be remembered as a lost season for the Lakers. Bryant's latest meeting with team physicians revealed his fractured tibia remains slow to heal and that the former MVP simply wouldn't have enough time to return this season. This means Kobe and Nash, out with continued nerve irritation in his leg, will have played a combined total of 16 games this year.

DeMarcus Cousins: Cousins missed a game over the weekend with tendinitis in his right knee. It was his eighth game missed to injury but only the first due to his right leg. Further analysis of his injury history failed to show any other knee issues, suggesting there's little cause for long-term concern. Consider him day-to-day moving forward.

Jamal Crawford: After making a brief appearance in one game, Crawford has missed four games with his still ailing calf strain. However, the Clippers get a break in the schedule and only play twice this week. Crawford is targeting a Saturday return and could be back just in time to help teams in the fantasy playoffs. After the short week, Los Angeles begins a more fantasy friendly portion of their schedule with back-to-back weeks of four games.

Kevin Garnett: The veteran power forward can't seem to his shake back spasms and is slated to miss his ninth straight game Monday against the Suns. Remember KG's teammate Andrei Kirilenko missed 25 straight earlier this season with a similar problem.

Danny Green: Green has played well as of late despite nursing a sore right wrist. The team has scheduled an MRI to determine the cause of the lingering pain, and the results should be released late Monday. Look for Marco Belinelli and Manu Ginobili to see additional playing time if Green is forced to miss any time moving forward.

Ersan Ilyasova: Despite growing efforts from the Lakers, the Bucks maintain their title as the team most-ravaged by injury. Ilyasova missed his 14th game of the season Sunday to rest his sore right ankle. He's picked up his productivity over the last few weeks but remains a risky play due to the lingering ankle issues.

Kyle Lowry: The Raptors point guard took a knee to the head Sunday and admitted after the game he was experiencing a headache and sensitivity to light. Both of these symptoms are an indicator of a potential concussion, and Lowry will have to be medically cleared if he wants to play Tuesday in Atlanta.