The winner of the NBA playoffs so far? The injury bug

  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
  • Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
  • Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system

By now you’ve probably seen the stat that more All-Stars have missed games in this year’s NBA playoffs (eight) than any before on record, per Elias Sports Bureau research, beating the previous record of six.

But that only begins to describe the impact injuries have had on a postseason unlike any other.

Whether it’s those playing through injuries (including MVP runner-up Joel Embiid and former winner James Harden), players hoping to come back soon (All-Stars Mike Conley Jr. and Kyrie Irving) or those whose status going forward remains uncertain (led by Kawhi Leonard, who’s been perhaps the most valuable player in the playoffs), injury news has dominated the NBA landscape this week and all postseason long.

A high number of injuries occurring in the playoffs

Instead of looking just at All-Star players, the method I’ve used to look at playoff injuries is games missed by players who averaged at least 25 minutes per game in the playoffs (or the regular season, if they missed the entire playoffs because of injury).

By those standards, the 2021 playoffs have already seen more games missed due to injury than almost any before the past five years.

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