Can Brand Be a Force in NBA Playoffs with Hand Injury?

Written By Roy Burton On Wednesday, April 13, 2011
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 25: Guard Elton Brand #42 of the Philadelphia Sixers shoots against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 25, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Sixers 111-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
It didn't seem like much at the time.

During the 76ers' 110-105 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 9, starting power forward Elton Brand was hit hard on the back of his left hand, a blow that resulted in a "very minor fracture,"according to

"Elton got banged...the other night and I think he's going to be OK," said 76ers coach Doug Collins two days after the game. "He went through shoot-around today and seemed to be fine."

While he hasn't missed any action since that game, Brand averaged 13.8 PPG and 6.9 RPG during Philadelphia's next eight contests—a slight decrease from his season marks of 15.2 PPG and 8.7 RPG prior to the injury.

Brand himself will tell you that his hand is bothering him. And in the next breath, he'll completely dismiss the notion that the injury will cause him to miss any time, especially with the playoffs on the horizon.

"It is definitely a problem," Brand said when asked on March 27 about the injury. "It is nothing that will stop me from playing."

That response tells you all you need to know about what Elton Brand brings to this young Philadelphia team.

Not only does he lead the 76ers in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, but as one of the team's co-captains, Brand provides invaluable veteran leadership to a squad where six of the top eight players in Collins' rotation are between 20 and 24 years old.

Philadelphia can ill afford to have Brand at anything less than 100 percent as they head into the playoffs later this week. Whether they draw the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics in the first round, the 76ers will rely heavily on Brand to control the interior against the opposing team's post players.

However, if the last few games are any indication, then there's no need to worry.

Ever since the calendar turned to April, Brand's right hand hasn't appeared to be bothering him in the slightest. In the 76ers past four games, he is averaging 19.8 points and 8.2 rebounds, while shooting nearly 59 percent from the field.

The performance is more impressive considering the ailments that Brand has been dealing with over the past several weeks. In addition to what sounds like a broken hand, Brand recently dislocated his right pinky finger, and suffered through a bout with the flu, but has still yet to miss a game this season due to injury.

In his 12th year in the NBA, Brand has been Philadelphia's most consistent and most valuable player—the primary reason behind the team's return to the playoffs after missing the postseason last year.

Speaking of the playoffs, a potential seven-game series against either Chris Bosh or Kevin Garnett looms in the not-too-distant future for Elton Brand. But the thought of sitting out his team's final two games of the regular season doesn't even cross his mind.

"There's no complaints about [the injury] from him," said 76ers president Rod Thorn in an interview with the New York Times on April 4. "He keeps playing. His confidence, his leadership, have been invaluable to our team."

At 32 years of age, this trip to the postseason will be only the second of Brand's career. With that in mind, it's safe to assume that it'll take more than a broken hand to keep him off of the court come playoff time.

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