Both the Sixers and the Magic come limping into Sunday night's match-up. For the Sixers, young phenom Thaddeus Young is nursing a sprained right ankle which forced him to miss 7 of the final 9 games. Some people think Thad's injury will be as detrimental to the series as the Magic's injuries, but I'm here to tell you otherwise.
First off, Baby Legs returned for the final two games of the regular season. In the two games, Thad looked like he hadn't missed a beat. He averaged 19 points, 6 boards and 3 steals on 53 percent shooting. I have to tell you, I was insanely impressed with Thad after being in crutches just weeks earlier. It doesn't hurt that he has a 20-year-old, fast-healing body. Add three days off and a couple practices for Thad to regain his wind completely and Sixers fans shouldn't be worried one bit about "Baby Legs" Young.
For the record, starting center Sam Dalembert missed the second half of the final game with a strained right shoulder. Two reasons you shouldn't care: One, Sam has played 258 straight games. And two, even if he isn't at full strength, I'm not so his replacement, Theophilus Ratliff isn't a better option.
Another variable in the Sixers advantage is the fact that they will have had three days off before game 1. The last time they had 2+ days off was March 9-10. The players who will benefit most from the rest are the "two Andres", who have both averaged 39+ minutes in April.
So it looks like the Sixers should be worry-free on the injury front. The Magic on the other hand, are a different story...
The Magic's clear-cut second and third best players are nursing a sprained ankle and knee tendonitis respectively. A sprained ankle and tendonitis aren't normally injuries fans cringe upon hearing, but as we saw with Kevin Garnett, it varies from player to player. Now, I'm not an expert on the Magic -- far from it. I'm also no expert on injuries, but I can put together a few logical premises on why I think the Magic's injuries are good news for the Sixers.
Premise one: Older players normally require more time to recover from injuries.
Are we okay with that? Sure, there are a few exceptions, but not many. Unlike the 20-year old Thaddeus, Rashard Lewis is 29 and Hedo Turkoglu is 30.
Premise two: Neither played in the final two regular season games.
In Lewis's case, he hasn't played since April 10. When game one rolls around it will be the first time Lewis has suited up in nine days. Most would argue that nine days off is good for a player nursing an injury. I agree, but going nine days without playing and then jumping right into the NBA Playoffs has it's cons. Will they be rusty? Will they be sucking air in the fourth quarter? Will they be able to keep with with one of the most athletic teams in the league? I think the answer to most, if not all of those questions is "yes" -- at least in regards to game one.
I think the Sixers have a huge advantage in the health department. There's no doubt in my mind that Turk and Lewis will be in the starting lineup for game one and in the end, they'll get theirs. However; in the playoffs every quarter, every minute, every possession, every second matters. Will Hedo's sprained ankle hold up when Andre Iguodala drives for the game-tying dunk? Will Rashard's knee give out when trying to run the floor with Super-Thad? I guess we'll find out come Sunday, but at this point I'll take any small advantage I can get.
This. is. the. Playoffs! So excited for Sunday.