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NBA Injury Analysis: Hobbled Stars

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.

Andrew Bogut and David Lee

The Warriors frontcourt is suddenly sparse as the team looks to overcome injuries to both Bogut and Lee. They will be without their Aussie center for at least the next week after Bogut suffered a pelvic contusion following a collision with Memphis center Marc Gasol. Gasol's knee appeared to catch Bogut in the groin, but Bogut took to Twitter to assure his fans everything in that region was ok. However, the diagnosis of a pelvic contusion is equally as worrisome since this injury can be a painful one. The pelvis is comprised of both bone and muscle. The skeletal structure of the pelvis is created by the two hip bones and the final two segments of the spine, the sacrum and the coccyx. The musculature of the area includes the muscles of abdominal wall as well as the intrinsic and lower back muscles. Both the muscles and bones of the area can be bruised and contused, but judging by the description, it sounds like Bogut's injury is to the bone. A pelvic contusion to the bone is often referred to as a hip pointer, particularly if the damage occurs to the iliac crest of the hip. The cluneal nerve of the body runs along this ridge and can illicit extreme pain following a direct impact. Damage to the area can also result in muscle dysfunction leading to physical limitation and spasm in the neighboring muscles. For a player with a history of back issues, including back spasms in the preseason, Bogut will have to be particularly cautious with his return. The 10-day recovery window is realistic, but don't be caught off guard if this lingers a bit longer.

Lee remains hampered by a hamstring strain in his right leg. The injury occurred in the fourth quarter of the team's March 22 loss to the Spurs. While Lee doesn't have a history of hamstring problems, he does have a red flag that could potentially affect his recovery. During last season's playoffs, Lee suffered a torn right hip flexor. He attempted to play through the injury but ultimately needed surgery to repair the damage. While Lee rehabbed the injury and reported to camp in top shape, his current injury could cause problems for the area. The hamstring and hip flexors are antagonists, meaning they work against each other. However, there is a level of codependence here, and a limitation in one can have a direct impact on the other. A tight hip flexor can result in an elongated hamstring, and a limited hamstring can overwork the hip flexors. The medical team of the Warriors is likely well aware of this relationship and will take the necessary steps to insure a cascade injury does not occur. However, with the playoffs on the horizon, there are plenty of reasons for them to remain cautious in their approach. Fortunately, Lee did travel with the team to Texas and could be available Tuesday against the Mavericks. If he can't go, look for Golden State to pair Marreese Speights alongside Jermaine O'Neal.

Blake Griffin

The Clippers watched as Griffin limped off the court following a non-contact injury. The All-Star forward left holding his lower back, and reports later confirmed he was suffering from back spasms. It's been stated here before, but it's worth mentioning again that back spasms are not an injury but instead a symptom. They often accompany muscular injuries and can be extremely difficult to manage. Pain following trauma to the area sends the muscles into spasm. These spasms often result in an increase in pain which in turn leads to more tension. More tension causes more pain, and the affected individual becomes stuck in the debilitating pain-spasm cycle. The cycle must be interrupted and the root of the problem addressed before a player can return to activity without fear of recurrence. Coach Doc Rivers hinted that the spasms are not being caused by a new back ailment but instead by a preexisting hip injury. Lower back pain and spasms can be associated with tight hip flexor muscles or weak gluteal muscles. These limitations can result in an increase in lower back extension as well as decrease in available hip extension. As previously mentioned, both alterations increase the possibility of pain and spasm in the lower back.

The Clippers will need to treat the spasms and address any associated problems at the hip if they want to get Griffin back on the court for an extended period of time. He has already been ruled doubtful for Monday's game, and it would come as no surprise if he sits a few more.

Fast Breaks

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks forward underwent an X-ray on his left hand following Sunday's win over Golden State. No bone damage was discovered, and he is likely dealing with a contusion, mild sprain, or strain. He suffered a minor sprain to his right hand earlier this season and did not miss any time. However, Melo is already playing through a tender right ankle, and his latest hand injury may have been the culprit behind his poor shooting Sunday. Keep him in your lineups, but scale back your expectations a bit until he can prove the injury will not affect his productivity.

Pau Gasol: The Lakers center continues to be plagued by nausea and orientation problems stemming from a case of vertigo. The condition was detailed in last week's column but remains an issue. He has begun cardio work, a small step in the right direction, but a definitive return to play date has not been established. He's a risky play in weekly formats as there is no telling when he will play and how much he will play when he is finally cleared to return. Chris Kaman looked like a suitable replacement Sunday, scoring 28 points and collecting 17 rebounds. However, coach Mike D'Antoni has yet to commit to Kaman on a regular basis, and that sort of productivity can't be counted on nightly.

Kyrie Irving: The Cleveland All-Star could be nearing a return, barring the results of a checkup scheduled for the early parts of the week. He has missed the last eight games after suffering a strained biceps in his left shoulder but is targeting an April 2 return in a road game against the Magic.

Kyle Korver: The Atlanta sharpshooter remains sidelined with back spasms that have forced him to miss six consecutive games. The advice provided for Griffin is applicable for Korver as well. However, he did go through shoot around early Monday morning and could be back in time to help revive the Hawks suddenly struggling offense.