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Injuries Dominate First Weekend of NBA Playoffs
Many NBA betting experts wondered how the shortened regular season would impact the playoffs after the schedule makers crammed 66 games into roughly four months. Those who watched the first weekend of the postseason saw some ugly results, with a few notable injuries altering the road to the NBA championship for some title contenders.
In the Eastern Conference, the top-seeded Chicago Bulls won Game 1 of their first-round series with the eighth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers 103-91 on Saturday but suffered a huge loss when reigning MVP Derrick Rose tore the ACL in his left knee with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter. Some have questioned the decision of Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau to leave Rose in the game with a double-digit lead, but Rose did not get the opportunity to get into any kind of rhythm down the stretch of the regular season due to various injuries that limited him to just 39 games.
Rose nearly posted a triple double with 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the victory, and his minutes will now be split between C.J. Watson and John Lucas III. Watson handled the point in Rose's absence throughout the regular season while Lucas also played well in spots. The Bulls (-6) still have a solid shot to get by the 76ers in the series, but Tuesday's Game 2 opener was already adjusted down three points to -5.5 from the Game 1 close of -8.5.
The seventh-seeded New York Knicks also saw one of their most valuable defenders tear his ACL on Saturday when point guard Iman Shumpert went down in the third quarter of their 100-67 loss to the second-seeded Miami Heat. Shumpert was responsible for checking Miami's Dwyane Wade and had really stepped up late in his rookie campaign in replacing Jeremy Lin. The Knicks have seen center Tyson Chandler battle the flu and veteran guard Baron Davis continue to struggle with a bad back as well, prompting Lin to try to speed up his recovery from knee surgery he underwent earlier this month. The Heat are 9.5-point favorites in Game 2 on Monday.
The Western Conference saw a casualty on Sunday night too when Los Angeles Clippers forward Caron Butler fractured his left hand in the third quarter of his team's dramatic 99-98 comeback victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers used a late 28-3 run to stun Memphis at home after they trailed by as many as 27 points and tied an NBA playoff record for largest deficit overcome at the end of three quarters when they trailed by 21. Butler scored 12 points and averaged that same amount during the regular season. He was one of the few LA players with postseason experience and will likely be replaced in the lineup by Nick Young, who scored 19 points off the bench. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday.