The Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks endured through injuries to key players throughout their playoff runs this year. One team overcame them while another just couldn’t win because of it.
It was a tough time for me as a fan of both teams as I have this unrealistic optimism that my teams can overcome anything.
For the Warriors, it’s a little bit easier to believe in the team’s ability despite injuries. With Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins injured, the Warriors didn’t miss a beat and advanced to their fifth straight NBA Finals appearance. Heck, Andre Iguodala missed the last game with an injury too. Cousins was out for most of the playoffs and Durant was out for essential five and a half games. Yet the Warriors didn’t miss a beat. They fell behind in some of the games but at no point did I believe they would lose.
This is the part of the legacy of this team. No lead is insurmountable. Each player on the team knows their role and the confidence is unmatched. Stars like Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry played at their best level and took care of business. Role and bench players stepped up and it was all the difference. Injuries didn’t rattle the team. They are just that good.
The same story cannot be said about the Sharks. They overachieved this year and were two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final. But injuries were too much and we all knew the team was running on borrowed time.
Despite the miraculous comeback against the Vegas Knights, Joe Pavelski’s injury was used as a battle cry for the team. Sadly Pavelski’s return was short-lived as he was out for the team’s final game. The same can be sad about Erik Karlsson’s groin injury and Tomas Hertl as they both missed the final game. That’s three big stars out of the lineup. It’s rare for a team to be out of that much talent to be able to win — let alone a playoff game.
The injuries were too much for the Sharks and their fate was essentially sealed before the puck dropped. I didn’t feel the same way I did for this team as I did for the Warriors. I didn’t think the Sharks just had enough with this. And with the NHL playoffs being the toughest playoff in all four major sports, it was another sad exit for the team.
The injury narrative isn’t something anyone likes to see. We want to see all teams as their best. But that’s the story we have here in the Bay. Two teams face injuries and we have two different results. It’s just the story of the Bay Area sports scene.