The MRI on Leandro Barbosa’s hyperextended left knee showed he suffered a bone contusion and thus will miss one to three weeks, according to Suns.com, depending on how much the knee swells.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time with the Suns having won three games in a row to pull within four games of Dallas, making a push for the playoffs at least possible if not likely.
Barbosa will immediately begin working out in the pool and on the cardio machine; then the team’s training staff will re-evaluate him after a week to see when he can start doing activities that put impact on the knee.
Therefore, it seems more than optimistic that LB would be able to suit up for next Wednesday’s monster game against the Jazz or Thursday’s biggie in Portland. Considering how LB has been cautious about injuries in the past, it seems fairly likely that he will miss all of next week’s brutal stretch against four playoff teams starting Monday against Denver and ending Saturday in Utah.
It’s also very possible that the Suns will be far enough behind by the time Barbosa is ready to return that it doesn’t even matter.
The good news is that there’s no ligament damage and this shouldn’t be anything that adversely affects his career like I originally thought it could be when LB was hobbling off the floor, so as disappointing as it is for him to miss any time this is probably about the best the Suns could have reasonably expected.
“Just looking at the injury when it happened, it could’ve been a lot worse,” head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson told Suns.com.
In Barbosa’s place I expect Alvin Gentry to continue to use his whole bench, Goran Dragic in particular.
Aside from the point forward abilities of Grant Hill and Matt Barnes, Dragic is really the only guy who can be counted on to bring the ball up and initiate the offense when Steve Nash is not on the floor.
This will also likely place an extra burden on Nash to play a couple extra minutes, as if he needed that, and J-Rich will need to continue to be aggressive like he was in scoring 23 points in Wednesday’s second half. The scoring opportunities will be there for J-Rich, so he needs to do what he does best.
Alando Tucker will probably get a bit more burn, and although they play different positions, this could mean a few more minutes for Jared Dudley without LB soaking up so much time.
Barbosa had been averaging 19.1 points per game under Gentry and is the perfect player for this up-tempo system, so it will be interesting to see how much of a hit the offense takes from this injury. It didn’t disturb much against the Sixers as the Suns still racked up 126 points and scored at least 30 points every quarter despite LB only logging two minutes of action.
It’s kind of amazing how this offense just keeps trucking along at an all-time best level even with their All-Star starting power forward playing only two games under Gentry and now a dynamic scorer in LB missing time.
With only five guys I would have considered solid rotation players at the beginning of the season standing upright – and three of them in their mid 30s – I really wonder how much longer this can last.
Tags: Leandro Barbosa