The 2013 NBA playoffs are now in full swing, with opening round games well underway in both conferences.
However, many teams in this year's postseason have been absolutely devastated by injuries, and some of these clubs could very easily see their championship hopes crumble because of it.
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Steve Nash, who has been plagued by various ailments all season, is out with a bad back. Metta World Peace is a scratch for Game 4 with a knee problem. Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake, who average about 7 points per game, are also out. All of these injuries hinder the Purple & Gold in a major way, and at this point, it will be a miracle if they somehow manage to avoid a sweep.
Another team suffering through the injury bug is the Chicago Bulls. However, unlike the Lakers, Chicago has managed to persevere and jump out to a 3-1 series lead over the Brooklyn Nets.
Most notable is the loss of Derrick Rose, who was injured in the first round of the 2012 playoffs with a torn ACL and has yet to return. Joakim Noah has also been struggling with a foot injury. His minutes have been limited as of late, but he's managing to play through the pain. Noah scored 15 points with 13 boards and 4 blocks in Chicago's triple-OT win in Game 4.
The Houston Rockets are trying to pull off a David vs. Goliath-like upset over the No. 1 seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in their first round matchup, but the odds look slim.
Jeremy Lin left Game 2 with a right chest contusion, and was a game-time decision for Saturday's Game 3. While he ended up starting, Lin was visibly wincing every time he took a shot, so he probably won't be much of a factor the remainder of the series. Greg Smith, who contributes 6 points and 4 rebounds per game, has also missed playing time due to a stomach virus.
One of the biggest stories of this year's playoffs is the loss of Russell Westbrook, who will miss the remainder of the postseason with a torn meniscus in his knee. While the Thunder should still get by the Rockets, the absence of Westbrook certainly hurts their chances of advancing any further.
The Denver Nuggets have also been hampered by injuries. Their biggest loss being Danilo Gallinari, who is set to have surgery on his torn ACL April 29th.
George Karl's bunch is already down 2 games to 1 versus the Golden State Warriors, so losing Gallinari is a big blow. The Nuggets have also had to cut back the minutes of Kenneth Faried, who has been playing on a banged up ankle.
And that's just the beginning. The Boston Celtics (Rajon Rondo), San Antonio Spurs (Tiago Splitter), and Miami Heat (Dwyane Wade) have all had to deal with key players missing time as well.
While it goes without saying that injuries are a part of every sport, we hate to see them be a deciding factor as to who ultimately wins and loses in the end. Unfortunately, it's looking like this year's NBA playoffs will be defined by who isn't playing as opposed to who is.