The Clippers’ list of injured players is long and varied. Blake Griffin has a concussion. Austin Rivers has an ankle impingement. Patrick Beverley underwent season-ending knee surgery. Danilo Gallinari has a gluteus maximus injury. Milos Teodosic has a plantar fascia injury.
They’re not alone in missing key players because of injuries.
The Golden State Warriors, the Clippers’ opponent Wednesday in Oakland, have taken to listing most of their top players on their injured list. Steph Curry sat out 11 games because of a sprained ankle and Kevin Durant has missed the past three games because of a calf strain.
Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets has been sidelined for extended periods because of knee injuries and adductor injuries. James Harden, Paul’s teammate, is out because of a hamstring injury, missing last week’s showdown with the Warriors.
The San Antonio Spurs have been without Kawhi Leonard for most of the season because of a quadriceps injury and more recently because of a partially torn shoulder muscle. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said earlier this season he’s never seen a quad injury like Leonard’s.
“Never, never,” Popovich said.
Except that the Spurs’ Tony Parker had a similar quad injury that sidelined him.
The list goes on and on around the NBA.
“There’s a million theories,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said when asked earlier this week why there seem to be more injuries to key players around the league this season than ever before. “It’s a great question. I wish I had an answer. I don’t have an answer.”
Doc Rivers, who likes to joke that Doc is just his nickname and that he’s not an actual medical doctor, then offered one theory.
“I wish all of them played more basketball,” he said. “Clearly, that’s not the whole reason, but I just think guys played basketball years ago. Just a lot of basketball. It’s not lost on me that Jamal Crawford is always healthy because he plays basketball.”
NBA players are stronger, bigger and faster than when Rivers played in the league with the Atlanta Hawks, Clippers, New York Knicks and Spurs from 1983-96. He said he admires the dedication to their workout routines, but he wonders if they weren’t overdoing it.
“Guys now do all the other stuff, which I think is important, but the game they play is basketball,” he said. “When the season starts, they haven’t played. They’ve been doing all the other stuff. Then the season starts and we ask them to play 40 minutes…