Fresh off losing starting point guard Patrick Beverley for the season with a wrist injury, the Rockets suffered another major loss of a rotation player with the playoffs just over a week away. USA Today‘s Sam Amick reported on Wednesday that big man Donatas Motiejunas, who has been out since March 27 with a back injury, will not be back this season.
Another huge hit for Houston: I’m told Donatas Motiejunas is out for the season with his back injury. Story to come at @USATODAYsports
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) April 8, 2015
According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Motiejunas had been expected back before the season ended, but his injury had not been improving.
Hearing Motiejunas has NOT had a setback but his injury simply isn’t improving. Yet another tough injury blow for Rockets
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 8, 2015
This is a huge blow to the Rockets’ frontcourt depth going into the playoffs, with Dwight Howard still limited coming off a knee injury that kept him out for two months. Besides Howard, their only healthy bigs are Terrence Jones (who has had injury issues of his own this season), Joey Dorsey and rookie Clint Capela. Not ideal.
If the season ended today, the Rockets would play the Mavericks in the second round. If they stay in the No. 2 seed, they’ll play the Mavericks. If they fall behind Memphis to third, they’ll most likely play the Spurs, which would be death. They need a healthy Howard to have any hope of advancing in the playoffs as it is, but the loss of Motiejunas doesn’t make things any easier.