The Philadelphia 76ers may have gotten through Game 1 of the first round relatively uneventfully, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the league.
Just a few days into the playoffs, the drama has begun. Injuries to high-caliber players are piling up around the rest of the association, players are fighting with fans — the playoffs truly have it all already.
While the Sixers get ready to take on the Brooklyn Nets in Game 2 on Monday evening, let’s take a look at the headlines from the rest of the league after the first weekend of the playoffs.
‘Optimism’ surrounding Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo after back injury in Game 1 vs. Miami Heat
Bucks’ star and MVP-contender Giannis Antetokounmpo exited Game 1 of the Bucks-Miami Heat series in the first period after colliding in midair with Kevin Love and taking a hard fall onto his lower back.
Bucks’ superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (lower back contusion) will not return to Game 1 of Bucks-Heat, per @ShamsCharania.— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 16, 2023
Giannis sustained the injury on this collision with Kevin Love in the 1st quarter pic.twitter.com/ep8RFTvVfD
Antetokoumpo tried to play on but exited for the remainder of Game 1 in the second period — he had six points and three rebounds in his 11 minutes played. The Heat won the contest 130-117.
Things are not all doom and gloom for the Bucks, however, with The Athletic’s Shams Charania reporting that there is “optimism” around Giannis being available for Game 2 vs. Miami set for Wednesday night.
Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant exits Game 1 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
In a similar play to the one that injured Giannis, Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant suffered a hand injury after colliding with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis while in midair midway through the fourth period.
Ja Morant headed to the locker room with an apparent injury after this play. pic.twitter.com/MZOrSN9Tmz— ESPN (@espn) April 16, 2023
Morant exited the game and did not return. He finished with 18 points, six rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes played. Memphis went on to fall to the visiting Lakers 128-112.
There has been no further report on the extent of Morant’s injury or how long he may be out of commission, but Morant himself did not paint a pretty picture in a postgame interview on Sunday.
Ja Morant talked about the pain he was experiencing in his hand after the loss to the Lakers. pic.twitter.com/2NEovrPSGy— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 17, 2023
Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro breaks two fingers in Game 1 vs. Bucks
2021-22’s Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro broke two fingers on his shooting hand on a seemingly innocuous play diving for a loose ball just before halftime in Game 1 of the Bucks-Heat series. Despite being in obvious incredible pain, Herro remained on the court for the next possession and sank a corner three before exiting for the rest of the contest.
Tyler Herro was in pain after an apparent hand injury pic.twitter.com/k6OUQMt5JD— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 16, 2023
It was later reported that Herro broke both the middle and ring fingers on his shooting hand and will be out for approximately 4-6 weeks — leaving the door open for a return for the NBA Finals if the Heat were to make it that far.
The Heat are currently leading the series 1-0 after this weekend’s contest.
Los Angeles Clippers’ Russell Westbrook argues with fan at halftime of Game 1 vs. Phoenix Suns
This one is just weird. A video taken at halftime of Sunday’s contest between the Clippers and Suns shows Westbrook confronting a Suns fan who was sitting in club-level seating, telling him to “watch your mouth” among other colorful words. Warning, NSFW language.
“Watch your mouth motherf**ker”— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) April 17, 2023
Russell Westbrook to a Suns fan tonight: pic.twitter.com/EptuScWxjI
Eddie Gonzalez of FanDuelTV claimed to be close to the incident and said that it was started by the fan calling Westbrook, “westbrick”.
I was right there… Dude called Russ westbrick. And yeah….— Eddie Gonzalez (@bansky) April 17, 2023
0 got the last laugh on the court too
Gonzalez goes on to say that Westbrook got the last laugh, assumedly referring to the game-clinching block Westbrook put up Suns’ star Devin Booker as time expired to claim Game 1 for the Clippers.
A last bit of clarity on the drama, though. If you (like me) were wondering “how did he even wind up in the club-level area?”, Duane Rankin with AZ Central explained via Twitter that visiting players have been utilizing a shortcut to the locker room by way of the club-level area.
I'm sure you've seen the Russell Westbrook/#Suns fan interaction by now, but visiting players have been going through the club area to the visiting lockerroom all season.— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) April 17, 2023
It's been used as a short cut to the visiting lockerroom. #ClipperNation #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/HGpOUu0105
Something tells me the Clippers players will be taking the long way through the tunnels for the rest of the series.