Saturday’s 97-95 Game 1 loss in Denver was a tough pill to swallow, and it got even worse with today’s news regarding David Lee. As reported earlier, Lee will miss the remainder of the playoffs after an MRI this morning confirmed a complete tear of his right hip flexor.
Really tough day for me as a competitor & as a teammate, thanks for all the prayers & support! We still got this series,lets go Dubs! #GSW— David Lee (@Dlee042) April 21, 2013
The loss of Lee, a 2013 All-Star who led the NBA with 56 doubles during the regular season t, certainly hurts. Lee played 79 games this season and was a reliable source of production, ranking fifth in the NBA in rebounding (11.2 rpg) and 15th in scoring (18.5 ppg). Perhaps just as important to Lee’s play on the court has been his voice in the locker room, but that doesn’t figure to be shelved just because he won’t take the court anytime soon.
"It's a disappointing day for me, but I've been a leader on this team all season and I'm going to continue to be one," Lee said at practice today. “"This series is definitely not over. I look forward to watching this team rally." (Lee’s full interview can be heard below)
As Lee said, the team can’t, and won’t, wave the white flag simply because a key component of their team will now be watching from the sidelines. They didn’t do that when Brandon Rush suffered a season-ending injury in the second game of the year and they won’t do it now.
It’s not unusual for a team to rally in wake of an injury to one of its top players. The Knicks made a run to the NBA Finals in 1999 as an eight seed with Patrick Ewing limited by injury, and totally without the Hall of Fame Center for the majority of the Eastern Conference Finals. More recently, the Lakers won each of their remaining regular season games after Kobe Bryant went down with a torn left Achilles on April 12, and Warriors broadcaster Jim Barnett even predicts that the Lakers will win their Round 1 matchup with the Spurs.
Whether or not the team responds to Lee’s injury in a similar fashion will ultimately be determined on the court. By the time Game 2 comes around on Tuesday, the Warriors will have had two practices and another shootaround. By comparison, they rarely had that much gym time between games during the regular season, and they never came close to spending six days in the same city on the road. And while their overall game plan doesn’t figure to change too much – why would it considering they were on the brink of victory in an extremely difficult road environment? – they should have plenty of time to adjust to the idea of playing without Lee.
Head Coach Mark Jackson and other Warriors discussed Lee’s injury at practice today. Listen to their interviews below ….
The 2012-13 Warriors are as close-knit of a group as you will find in professional sports and together, they will need to respond once again in the face of adversity. Game. On.