A week after taking center stage at the All-Star Game, neither Amare Stoudemire
nor Kevin Garnett
will be taking the court.
Surgery to repair a partially detached retina might shutdown Stoudemire's season, while a strained right knee forced the Celtics to shut down KG for two to three weeks.
Here's what our analysts have said this week about the injuries and the effects they'll have on Sunday's Suns-Celtics matchup on ABC (2:30 ET).
Marc Stein, ESPN.com
The Suns are saying that this injury varies case-to-case, so they're not absolutely ruling him out for the rest of the season. But if you just do the math, eight weeks basically does take out the rest of the regular season, which would mean playoffs are as soon as they would see him, and they were going to have a tough enough time making the playoffs with him.
After a miserable year, or at least a miserable time since Game 1 of the San Antonio series, the coaching change from Terry Porter to Alvin Gentry really seemed to lift the cloud that has been over the team for basically nine, 10 months. They were really feeling good about themselves, even though they knew it was a depleted Clipper team they were pounding back-to-back this week. But just the whole mood around the team had changed.
The Suns are certainly feeling a "What next?" feeling settling over them.
• Watch the rest of Stein's interview.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com
How does Phoenix cope from here?
I believe the answer is by playing as small and fast as possible. The Suns can insert Matt Barnes
at power forward and at times go even smaller. Consider a lineup with Steve Nash
and Leandro Barbosa
in the back court and Grant Hill
and Jason Richardson
as the forwards around Shaq.
When they go to the bench, the likes of Louis Amundson
and Jared Dudley
can be the frontcourt -- they'll give up inches, but it's all about pushing tempo.
In a bizarre way, then, it's a blessing that Gentry took over when he did. The Suns tried to play conventionally under Terry Porter and got, at best, mixed results. Without Stoudemire, however, they can't play conventionally even if they want to. The team is seriously lacking in size right now, and they essentially have no choice but to play fast and run their opponents off the court.
• Read the rest of Hollinger's PER Diem
Ric Bucher, ESPN.com
It's devastating for the Suns.
They have tried to do everything to get over the hump, and it's almost sad to see how one thing after another
is tripping up the Phoenix Suns
I feel for their fan base at this stage, because just when it looked like they were back in the swing of things, and there are a number of teams faltering in the Western Conference
There's no easy solution to this. There's not a Boris Diaw
on that roster now. There's no one who can easily replace what Amare Stoudemire does in that up-tempo game.
They weren't playing Shaq in back-to-back games when they were playing a slower style
[because] there are diminishing returns there.
Shaq's at the point where they'll probably try to squeeze a few more minutes from him, but don't be surprised if he breaks down.
• Listen to the rest of the interview
Jon Barry, ESPN
The only big effect Garnett's injury is going to have is on the No. 1 seed in the East.
The way they came out at the beginning of this season shows how hungry they are, and that there is just as much desire as there was last year. But they went through their first two series in last season's playoffs without a road win, so home-court advantage still has some significance.
It's also a great opportunity for Big Baby and Leon Powe. Their biggest quest is getting into the playoffs, and this will be a three-week period for those players and the bench to gain some confidence. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are going to have to take on a larger role, but it also gives KG three weeks of rest, so it could be a blessing in disguise.
I've looked at their schedule coming up, and I don't think they're going to lose the No. 1 seed.
But I think this puts Cleveland in the driver seat. Cleveland is 23-1 at home this season, so in some ways, it might be more important for them.
Dr. Jack Ramsay, ESPN
Garnett is the Celtics' key player, and not just in statistical terms. You can't measure his contribution just on stats, although they're quite good. He's the heart of the defense, the designated double-teamer and he covers for other players. He's the moral fiber of the team.
They have the best team defense in the league. But they'll miss Garnett baldy, so the Suns get a break there.
The bench is getting gradually better. Eddie House
has had a couple big games; Powe and Davis have also given them big games on occasions. But Tony Allen
is also out, so you're asking Gabe Pruitt
and Brian Scalabrine
to do something positive. Scals is a good team guy, but now he'll need to put numbers on the board.
A lot of their success without Garnett has come playing at home against lesser team. To win big on the road these next few weeks is a big challenge for the Celtics -- starting with Sunday.
Stephen Oh, AccuScore.com
The Boston Celtics
will be without All-Star Kevin Garnett for the next 2-3 weeks after he suffered a right knee strain on Wednesday against the Utah Jazz
In terms of actual winning percentage the Celtics have done just fine without Kevin Garnett. Last season, Boston posted a 7-2 record without Garnett, with the two losses coming in the two toughest games -- at Cleveland and at Orlando.
AccuScore ran two sets of simulations, one where Garnett is out through the end of February and the other where he is out through March 10th -- which covers eight games. Once again, matchups with Cleveland and Orlando would be in that longer stretch, although this time, both games will be at home.
If Garnett returns next weekend, the impact projects to be fairly limited, since he would be in the lineup for the two crucial games against Cleveland and Orlando. If he is out for the longer stretch, the impact is more pronounced. With a healthy Garnett, our simulations showed the Celtics averaging 6.5 wins in those eight games. If Garnett is out, the Celtics' chances at home versus Cleveland and Orlando drop significantly and the overall win total is just 5.3.
• Read the rest of the AccuScore analysis.
Dimes past: Jan. 31-Feb. 1
| Feb. 2
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com
Chad Ford assesses the trade-deadline performance of the six teams playing on our network Sunday.
What was that all about? Defense wins championships. Shaq can save us. Mike D'Antoni isn't the right coach. Jason Richardson is the missing piece. We have to blow up the team. The owner needs to save money. Amare's gone. Shaq's gone. Our team can't win. Amare and Shaq aren't that bad after all. Alvin Gentry is the next best thing to D'Antoni. Maybe offense will win championships. My head is spinning.
Not sure how to spin a heavily protected second-round
pick. They did save a little money and clear a roster spot.
The team might have had the chance to get Andres Nocioni
from the Kings. There are different stories about who's to blame for the trade's
falling through, but that no-go could haunt Boston later. Nocioni
would've been a good fit for a team in desperate need of help on the wings. Now, the Celtics have to hope they can pick
up some talent (such as Joe Smith
) on the waiver wire in the next few weeks.
The team finally gets the help in the middle it desperately needs. Jermaine O'Neal
is past his prime and fragile, but light-years ahead of Joel Anthony
and Mark Blount
. The Heat also found a way to dump Marcus Banks
in the deal. And don't forget that Miami retained all its cap flexibility in 2010.
They have to pay O'Neal a lot
of money next year. Will he be worth it? Can he fit in with Dwyane Wade
? It was a reasonable gamble, but a gamble nonetheless.
The combination of Tyronn Lue
and Anthony Johnson
wasn't going to cut it. Rafer Alston
gives Orlando a legit point guard to
handle the team while Jameer Nelson
sits out the rest of the season after shoulder surgery. Alston's contract is guaranteed for only $2.5 million next year.
The Magic had to give up a first-round pick, which hurts. It's still highly doubtful that -- even with Alston -- this team can beat the Celtics and/or Cavs in a seven-game series. And I'm told they passed on a deal for a better point guard: Jamaal Tinsley
When you have LeBron James
, does the rest of the puzzle really matter?
It sure sounded as if the Cavs were poised to add
another important piece to LeBron's quest for a title. There was lots
of interest in Wally Szczerbiak
's expiring contract, but the Cavs
couldn't make a trade. We wonder whether all the talk we've heard from Cleveland and elsewhere about the value of expiring contracts was true. Cavs GM Danny Ferry wasn't the only guy unable or unwilling to move an expiring contract. See below.
The team is poised to have more than $20 million in
cap room this summer. With only a handful of teams with money to
spend and no other prime destinations likely to be available, the Pistons should be the
biggest players in the NBA in July. If Pistons president Joe Dumars gets lucky, a team (or two) that needs to save money will hand him a player he wants for practically nothing.
Are there any free agents the Pistons really want this summer? Carlos Boozer
wouldn't be a bad pickup -- if he opts out. Marvin Williams
and David Lee
are interesting restricted free agents. But it's entirely possible that what the Pistons passed on this month (i.e., a potential Amare Stoudemire
deal) will be better than anything they can get in the summer.
Read Chad Ford's evaluation of the other 26 NBA teams at the trade deadline here.