How NBA's poor schedule planning led to a record number of All-Stars getting injured in 2021 NBA playoffs

Kyrie Irving was injured in the round 2 matchup between Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks
Kyrie Irving was injured in the round 2 matchup between Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks

The excitement of the ongoing NBA playoffs has been marred by injuries to several star players. Multiple contenders have had to deal with injuries throughout the postseason, indicating the ill-planning and execution of the 2020-21 NBA schedule by the league.

Could the league have planned the 2020-21 NBA season better keeping player's health in mind?

LeBron James had an injury-riddled 2020-21 NBA season
LeBron James had an injury-riddled 2020-21 NBA season

Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and Mike Conley faced setbacks during the season. They missed considerable time due to injuries during the 2021 NBA playoffs, owing to their injuries.

Players like Harden, Mitchell, James, and Conley did play games for their teams. But not being at 100% fitness was clearly visible and it ended up hampering their team's chances to progress in the playoffs. The teams that got the most severe hits, the Utah Jazz, Brooklyn Nets, LA Lakers and even Denver Nuggets, are unsurprisingly out of the postseason.

The 2021 NBA playoffs have seen eight NBA All-Stars miss games for their teams, breaking the previous record of six. Instead of performances and tactics, the news has been dominated by players going down to injuries, and fans have been devoid of watching teams take on each other at full strength.

LA Lakers' LeBron James was quick to call out the NBA for their careless planning, venting his frustration on social media site Twitter. James had an injury-marred season, and his team, the LA Lakers, went out in the first round of the playoffs this year after winning the Larry O'Brien trophy last season.

The injuries don't really come off as a surprise though. The 2019-20 NBA season, which was delayed by the Coronavirus pandemic, ended in early October following a mid-August start in the Orlando bubble. The 2020-21 NBA preseason then began as early mid-December, giving players virtually two months of rest. It was the shortest off-season in the history of the NBA, with only 72 days separating Game 6 of the 2020 NBA Finals in the bubble and the start of this season.

Kawhi Leonard might miss rest of the postseason with an ACL injury
Kawhi Leonard might miss rest of the postseason with an ACL injury

The NBA could've planned the 2020-21 NBA campaign in a better manner. They could have further decreased the number of regular-season games and started the season much later than the eventual December start. The teams ended up playing 72 games, which could have probably shortened to around 60 games this year.

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The league can only blame itself for all these All-Stars succumbing to injuries as they try to squeeze in a hectic schedule on a condensed calendar. The regular season ended a month later than it would normally finish, which shows how ill-advised the decision to go ahead with this plan was.

As a result of this packed schedule, players had to play more games with less rest, with multiple back-to-backs. Basketball, like any other contact sport, is extremely grueling, and poor planning by the league has led to NBA athletes putting their bodies at risk.

There was no explanation provided by the league as to why the regular season was only reduced by 10 games. The organization is looking to maximize profits the only plausible answer.

What compounds this problem is the fact that the NBA finals will end in July, which will then be followed by the Olympics. Team USA will be expecting to call on the services of various NBA A-listers, which will mean that some of these stars will end up playing close to 80 games or even more in less than a year.

The NBA has always claimed to put the players' safety first, followed by entertainment for fans. However, they have failed to deliver on both fronts this season, as the injuries keep on piling up.

Also Read: 3 Biggest needs the New York Knicks must address in the 2021 NBA offseason

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Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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