We know that once players reach the Finals, no one is playing at 100 percent. But while some are merely trying to get through what Shaquille O’Neal used to refer to as “knick-knack injuries,” others are dealing with things much more serious.
Kendrick Perkins falls into the latter category, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via EOB):
Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins played the final three playoff rounds with a partially torn groin, league sources tell Y! Sports.
A report from the Oklahomanstates that the injury occurred in Game 4 against Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, and has been a problem ever since.
This revelation will only have fans questioning Thunder head coach Scott Brooks’ plans in these Finals even more. He’s been consistently killed for his rotations, and Perkins was largely ineffective the entire series.
Perkins is as tough as they come, so it’s no surprise he tried to gut it out with the injury. But knowing what we know now, the question of why in the world Brooks would rely on him for over 23 minutes per game in the Finals — including 34 minutes in Game 3 — is one that, at some point, he should probably have to answer.
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“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.
“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”
That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.
I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?
It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.