Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard will play in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors, as reported by Yahoo Sports NBA writer Marc J. Spears and subsequently confirmed by the Rockets . He had been listed as questionable after sustaining a sprained left knee during the Warriors' 110-106 win in Game 1 on Tuesday night. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] Howard suffered the injury just past the midway point of the first quarter of Game 1 after a scary collision with teammate Josh Smith while pursuing a rebound: Howard returned shortly thereafter, but clearly appeared to be less than 100 percent as the game progressed, finishing with seven points on 3-for-7 shooting, 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and five turnovers in 26 minutes of play. He didn't score in the second half, his movements appeared stiff and labored, and he clearly didn't have the same level of explosion off the sore knee that he'd showcased during the Rockets' series victories over the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers. Howard went through pregame warmups to test the sprained knee about an hour prior to tipoff, running sprints, stretching and doing some side-to-side movement. Evidently, the Rockets' medical staff liked what they saw enough to give him the go-ahead. The Rockets will certainly be glad to have their defensive centerpiece back in the lineup. But even after two days of rest and treatment on the ailing knee, one would suspect Howard might still be at least somewhat limited in terms of his lateral movement and explosiveness. That could prove problematic against a Warriors team that distorts defenses with ball and player movement, looks for opportunities to attack the basket and can draw opposing bigs away from the paint with floor-spacing shooting, especially in small-ball lineups that feature Draymond Green at center. Even with Howard back, coach Kevin McHale could find himself forced to lean more heavily on his own brand of small-ball, with power forward Smith manning the middle as an undersized center, and relying to a far greater degree than anyone expected on rookie reserve Clint Capela, who's been a pleasant surprise for the Rockets during their playoff run. As our Kelly Dwyer noted in his look ahead to Game 2 , if Howard's looking a step slow in screen-setting, seems unable to outduel the likes of Green and Andrew Bogut for rebounds and can't quite elevate to finish above the rim on the pick-and-roll or on those high-low lobs that terrorized Dallas, his presence could wind up doing the Rockets more harm than good. If he's able to approximate the at-times game-changing play he turned in during Rounds 1 and 2, however, he could give Houston the boost it needs to pull off the tremendously tough task of scoring a split against the league-best Warriors in the not-so-friendly confines of Oracle Arena. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.
This has gotten out of hand, and there isn’t much our hands can do about it. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Wednesday night’s DeMarre Carroll injury marked the latest in a significant strain of nasty setbacks that has made the 2015 playoffs a walkthrough of the walking wounded. Carroll will be just fine, in terms relative to the scare we saw in Game 1 of his team’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s still in significant pain and questionable for the rest of his team’s series, however long that lasts. We start with him, as we document a postseason gone twisted. Literally. DeMarre Carroll, sprained left knee . It looked bad. It really looked bad . Carroll planted on his left knee after a Eurostep in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern finals, and his knee just decided not to give back as DeMarre rose for a layup. He clutched that knee in agony after falling to the floor and could not put weight on it while being lifted to the locker room. He left the arena on crutches, as the whole of the viewing public assumed the worst for an overachiever that is set to make a deserved dent on the free agent market this summer. Impact : Currently listed as “day-to-day,” the “every-other-day-to-day” schedule of the Eastern Conference finals does Carroll no favors. He may not have torn anything, but the Hawks’ leading playoff scorer will not be the same player as his team’s dream season moves along. Kevin Love, separated left shoulder . It wasn’t intentional, but it sure looked like it. Boston Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk basically ended Love’s season with a clumsy rebounding move that ripped Love’s shoulder from its socket, necessitating 4-to-6 months’ worth of rehab and knocking the Cleveland Cavalier forward out of the playoffs. Love charged Olynyk with making the move on purpose , something the second-year Celtic denied, and while Olynyk may not have been attempting to end Love’s first postseason run, man, you just can’t do that. Impact : Love’s absence, combined with a J.R. Smith suspension and a Game 1 Chicago Bulls win in the next round, was thought to put Cleveland’s championship hopes on ice. Instead, the Cavs roared back against a listless Bulls squad to take that series, and they currently hold a 1-0 lead over Atlanta as LeBron James goes it alone . Thabo Sefolosha, broken right fibula and torn ligaments . What you want to do is write 4200 words. What you have to do, until all the lawsuits and investigations have cleared, is mind your space and hope that that we still live in a society where just the facts, ma’am, will come out. As if that was ever the case. Sefolosha was reportedly barely in the vicinity of an altercation between Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland and a would-be assailant in the early hours of April 8 . A TMZ video showed Sefolosha being pulled to the ground by several NYPD officers, reportedly a hundred feet from Copeland’s incident, while compliant. Sefolosha, choosing his words carefully as the National Basketball Players Association readied a lawsuit against the NYPD , later told reporters that his season-ending injury was “caused by the police.” Impact : In pure, stupid, basketball terms Thabo’s injury was already a crucial blow long before DeMarre Carroll went down with his knee sprain. A gifted defender and passer, Sefolosha was hired with the express written consent of defending LeBron James in the playoffs, and the Hawks will miss him on several levels. Donatas Motiejunas, back surgery . Motiejunas acted as a needed jack of all trades for Houston this year, utilizing solid enough spacing and surprising low post pep while acting as the squad’s fourth leading scorer. The Rockets rallied to make it to the West’s second seed before the team’s regular season ended, but Motiejunas had to watch from afar over the season’s final three weeks. Impact : Houston has done well to make the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1997, but it sure would be nice to see Motiejunas bounding around in a matchup against Golden State that seems perfectly suited for his style of in-and-out play. He scored double-figure points in three of his four games against the Warriors during the regular season. Rajon Rondo, back injury . Rajon Rondo never liked playing under Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. Rick Carlisle never liked the way Rondo dismantled Dallas’ previously top-ranked offense with his ball-dominating ways. The injury was a sham, the benching was real, and the gamble was a loss . Impact : The Mavericks declined to give Rondo a playoff bonus , and it is safe to say Rondo’s cap hold won’t be a nagging factor for Dallas this offseason. Jrue Holiday, right leg injury . This is a lingering concern, dating back a year and a half , and a frightening one for the NBA’s first player to be born in the 1990s. The New Orleans Pelican guard is reported to want to undergo yet another surgery to take the screw out of his surgically repaired right leg , and that seems the safest maneuver possible in the wake of another season mostly lost to constant pain and limited action. Impact : Holiday missed 12 of 19 shots spread out over three games in the 2015 postseason, and he had to sit out Game 4 of his team’s first round sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors. Wesley Matthews, torn Achilles . After his Portland Trail Blazers gutted out a wrist injury to LaMarcus Aldridge and a surprising second half step backward from star guard Damian Lillard, the team’s heart and soul had to sit the final five weeks of the regular season and eventually the postseason with a torn Achilles. Matthews, who was shooting 39 percent from long range while averaging 15.9 points per game, handled his injury with his typical grace and humor . Impact : The Blazers smartly reached out to acquire shooting guard Arron Afflalo in an attempt to circle the wagons prior to Wes’ injury, and he responded by hitting 40 percent of his threes as a Blazer. Afflalo hurt his shoulder in early April , however, and was an afterthought during the postseason as Portland bowed out in the first round. How this affects Matthews and Afflalo’s free agent turns remains to be seen. LaMarcus Aldridge, left thumb injury . Some of us were wrong. He didn’t just want an All-Star Game bonus. He wasn’t just, understandably, looking out for his free agent future. LaMarcus Aldridge played through a significant amount of pain with a thumb injury that should have put him out for two months, staying on the court as his Blazers fought to retain their status as a Western Conference postseason perennial. He waited until the offseason to have surgery, but not before leading his team to a gutty run that ended in the first round of the playoffs. Impact : Aldridge will be healthy by the time training camp starts following surgery, and his injury hardly left him as an approximation of his usual self – a testament to his ability to play through pain. He will explore the free agent market as he decides what to do with his last big contract, and last few years as a franchise-level player. Chris Paul, strained left hamstring . Paul, who made a point to play 82 games after what has been an injury-plagued career thus far, had to time this perfectly. He had to wait until Game 7 of his team’s Finals-worthy showdown with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs for things to go pear-shaped. It had to happen at the exact worst time. Chris Paul always has an excuse, right? Impact : It didn’t matter .
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