“They Got Away With One” | Habitually Injured Anthony Davis Says Suns’ Run Last Season Was A Fluke

Image Credit: Twitter @BleacherReport screen shot

The Phoenix Suns beat down the Los Angeles Lakers 140-111 on Sunday night, improving their league-best record to 54-14. The Suns are trying to return to the NBA Finals this coming postseason, and hopefully win the title this time. Prior to the game injured Lakers forward Anthony Davis was asked if his injury during last season’s playoffs was the reason the Lakers lost to the Suns. Davis believed it was, and that sparked some interesting conversations.

“It was … we know that,” Davis said. “They know that. They got away with one.”
Anthony Davis’ legs aren’t working but his Twitter fingers are pounding the boards. Photo: FT/Screenshot)

Suns All-Star Devin Booker, who scored 30 points in the victoru, thought AD’s comments were “funny” and mostly shrugged them off.

The idea that injuries play a role in playoff outcomes isn’t new or a surprise. Run through the list of the last dozen NBA champions and one way or another they benefited from some form of injury luck. Either they faced a team with a key player missing or limited due to injury or the championship team itself was the least impacted by injuries to its own players.

That’s the reality of a grueling 82-game regular season followed by an intense four-round playoff competition.

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The problem is “luck” doesn’t fit within the sensibilities of how fans view sports. Team A triumphed over everyone else because they were better. Yes. By and large that is true. You must be very good to win a championship. But by the time you get to the conference finals and the NBA Finals, all the teams are generally very good.

The Kevin Durant Golden State Warriors are a great example. At the time and historically they are considered a juggernaut. Fans said they were “unfair” and broke the league. As thought it was some foregone conclusion they would dominate and win titles.

In the 2017 Western Conference Finals the Warriors were down 25 points to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1. Kawhi Leonard, a Finals MVP, All-NBA player, and Defensive Player of the Year, was injured in the third quarter. Warriors storm back and win the game. Leonard is done for the playoffs. Warriors sweep. Does that series go differently if Kawhi doesn’t get injured?

In 2018 those same Warriors in the Western Conference Finals go down 3-2 to the Houston Rockets. The Rockets’ Chris Paul is injured in Game 5 and misses the rest of the series. Warriors win in seven. The Rockets were the best team in the league all season and James Harden won the MVP. Make no mistake, CP3 was the most important player on that roster. If he’s healthy does that series end differently?

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Point being, winning is tough. You need some luck. These teams are too good. Success isn’t solely an individual or team’s hard work and excellence. Yes, that’s a piece, but luck matters.

So AD can bemoan the fact that he was hurt and the Lakers lost. But he is often hurt. For the Lakers that is bad luck. But they won a title in 2020 against a Miami Heat team that had key players impacted by injury. Good luck for them, bad for the Heat.