According to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, Warriors forward David Lee will miss the remainder of the season with a torn right hip flexor. While nobody likes to see players seriously injured, it’s difficult to ignore how beneficial this is to the Nuggets’ chances of defeating the Warriors in the first round.
For the season Lee is averaging 18.5 points (52 percent from the field), 11 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Against the Nuggets in the regular season he averaged 23 points (56 percent from the field), 10 rebounds and five assists per game. With Kenneth Faried on the floor, outside of rebounds, David Lee’s numbers were up across the board in contrast with his regular season averages. Conversely, Faried’s numbers were down when Lee was on the floor. In short: Lee was a tough matchup for Faried. This was evident throughout each game when the Warriors and Nuggets met in the regular season. Faried typically struggles against crafty, offensive-minded power forwards like Lee on defense and can become passive on offense as a result.
But while the player most likely to replace Lee in the lineup isn’t much different (Carl Landry), the stats say Faried fares better against him than Lee. In the 80 minutes Landry has been on the floor with Faried this season, his averages across the board are down except for assists and personal fouls. Unfortunately, Faried’s offensive stats are also down with Landy on the floor. The good thing for Faried is that Landry is nowhere near the player Lee is. With Lee, Faried simply could not afford to be taken advantage of time and time again in the post. Though talented, Landry will not be able to expose Faried with the frequency Lee could.
Without Lee, the Warriors chances of defeating the Nuggets seem ostensibly bleak. Lee accounted for nearly 25 percent of his team’s offensive production in the regular season, nearly one third of its rebounds and 20 percent of its assists. He led the league in double-doubles and made the All-Star team for the second time in his eight-year career. Though the Warriors may rally behind Lee’s absence and coalesce even more, it’s extremely difficult to imagine them overcoming the deficit already bestowed upon them.
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