The injury bug is biting the NBA

A couple of things stood out in the Cavaliers 102–95 win over the Bucks. The game was close until the final minutes when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving went into tag-team champs mode and led Cleveland on a 11–0 run to put Milwaukee away.

It was rough watching the Bucks scrap-and-claw to stay in the game with such a discrepancy in talent on the court. Giannis Antetokounmpko struggled, scoring just nine points on a ragged 4–13 shooting night. With Jabari Parker on the sidelines Milwaukee did not have a second scoring option, and Cleveland was free to focus all their attention on Greek Freak.

The Cavaliers were also playing without one of their stars. Kevin Love is expected to be out for another month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. This puts a lot more pressure on James and Irving to keep the Cavs in that coveted first place spot in the Eastern Conference, and forces Ty Lue to make tough decisions about how much he wants to play his two remaining All-Stars down the stretch.

This is the time of year when most teams are facing injuries and are having to adjust rotations accordingly. Teams are just hoping that their key players stay healthy, but that’s just not the reality of today’s game. Championships can be won or lost because of the injury bug, and here are some teams that have been bitten worse as we head into March:

Jabari Parker — Out for the season after tearing his ACL

There’s no worse feeling for a basketball fan than watching a talented young dude like Jabari go down with an ACL injury. This was the year that it looked like Parker was putting it all together. He was averaging 20 points and six rebounds in 34 minutes for the Bucks before the injury.

Things were looking up for Milwaukee, who just a couple of weeks ago were looking like a strong contender in the fight for a playoff spot in the East. Now it’s back to the lottery for the young Bucks, who do not have the kind of personnel depth to survive this injury.

It would be nice to see Jason Kidd work Thon Maker into the rotation a little more at the end of the season. That seven-foot rookie is one of the more intriguing young talents in the NBA. Last night he came into the game for eight minutes, made two three pointers and blocked a shot. It’s clear that the Bucks are taking a slow developmental approach with the 20 year old, but with the season looking like a lost cause, maybe it’s time to see what the tantalizing Maker can do with increased playing time.

Kyle Lowry — Out four-to-five weeks after undergoing surgery to remove loose bodies from his right wrist

Lowry is the heart and soul of the Raptors, and this injury will be real to test for the team. The Raptors All-Star point-man is averaging 22 points (career high) and almost seven assists on the year and has Toronto in third place in the Eastern Conference.

With Lowry gone the pressure will be on his back-up, Corey Joseph, to keep the Drakes winning. Joseph is one of the most reliable back-up point guards in the league, and should be able to keep the offense moving in Lowry’s absence, but he’s not nearly the three-point threat that Lowry is and defenses will be more liable to stack defenders in the paint to stop DeMar DeRozan…

Not that keying on DeRozan helped the Knicks, TrailBlazers or Celtics in their recent losses to the Raptors. Toronto’s other All-Star has been playing the best stretch basketball of his career with Lowry on the sidelines. In the last three games DeMar has dropped 43, 33 and 37 — and last night hit this game winning shot in New York.

The Raptors have a pair of games against the Wizards coming up that will go a long way in deciding which team will be the higher seed in the East in the playoffs. We’ll see how much longer DeRozan can backpack his team without Lowry.

Ben Simmons and Joel Emiid -Embiid expected to be out until April-Simmons out for the season

If there has been any bright spot for 76ers fans in the past ten years it has been both the play and personality of Joel Embiid. There may not be a team in the league who looks more improved when their star is on the court. Embiid is averaging 20 points per game in just 25 minutes, as Head Coach Bretty Brown has tried to walk to tightrope of winning basketball games while trying to keep the teams franchise star healthy.

Embiid has been out since the All-Star Break while trying to recover from a bone bruise in his right knee, for which he’ll undergo an MRI on today. It’s easy to see the team shutting him down if they find anything in the test that may suggest a preventable future injury. They now have a star that has given the city hope for the future, and the last thing the organization wants to do is put that future at risk.

There was never any solid information that pointed to Ben Simmons making his NBA debut this season for the Sixers, and now that they have a solid chance of scoring a top draft pick in this years draft, it doesn’t make sense to rush him back. Simmons underwent a foot procedure to stimulate bone growth and help in the healing process yesterday:

Let’s hope that by the time next season rolls around we see a healthy, young Philly squad start the climb back up the NBA ladder.