During last night's Blazers-Wizards blowout, Mike Rice pointed out that this was the way the Blazers' bench had played during the team's 13-game winning streak earlier in the season. He suggested that the Blazers might have gotten stale lately with the "role players" relying so heavily on Roy & LMA to carry the offensive load. Of course, LMA missed several games during the Blazers' winning streak. That got me to wondering whether winning streaks occur in spite of or BECAUSE OF key injuries.
I recall LMA getting injured and thinking, "There goes the winning streak." Then the team went to Salt Lake of all places and won. I believe Roy also missed at least a couple games during the winning streak. And of course, the Rockets' recent winning streak featured a key injury at approximately the midway point: to Yao Ming.
Is this coincidence, or do injuries to key players actually FUEL winning streaks in some way? For instance, do such injuries force teams to focus rather than coast? Do they wake up role players (who, after all, were stars in high school and/or college)? Do they disrupt the defensive schemes of opponents, who no longer know who to focus their defensive efforts on?
What do you guys think? (If anyone knows whether the L*kers suffered key injuries during their 33-game winning streak, that'd add grist to the discussion.)
To take the question a step further: what role to key injuries play in a successful SEASON? Everyone seems to assume the best-case scenario is to "stay healthy" all season. But maybe a healthy team is a stale, predictable team. Perhaps the best-case scenario is to suffer a few short-lived injuries to key players during the course of a season, then to go into the playoffs with everyone healthy. An imperfect analogy would be how forests that have suffered occasional wildfires are more robust than ones that have gone unscathed for a long time.