Top Five: Injured stars in NBA playoffs

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Jeffrey Tomik
So far, the biggest storyline of the NBA postseason has been injuries. So who is the most significant missing player?

5. Caron Butler, Clippers » The small forward suffered a fractured hand in Sunday's playoff opener and will miss four-to-six weeks. Butler averaged 12.0 points a game, but his defense and size will be missed most for the Clippers. Without him, L.A. will have to rely more on their three-guard lineup.

4. Ray Allen, Celtics » The sharpshooter is day-to-day, but his absence was already felt in a Game 1 loss to the Hawks when Boston scored just 74 points. Without Allen, the Celtics become even more challenged on offense. Allen is essential in Boston's half-court sets and spreading the floor with his long-range ability.

3. Amare Stoudemire, Knicks » Yes, even self-inflicted injuries make the list. New York wasn't going to beat the Heat with the All-Star power forward, but now a sweep looks more likely after Stoudemire lacerated his hand by punching a glass case containing a fire extinguisher.

2. Dwight Howard, Magic »

While the Magic may be capable of defeating the Pacers, going any further in the Eastern Conference is not going to happen without Howard. The Magic center averaged 19.8 points and 18.8 rebounds in four games this season against the Heat -- Orlando's possible second-round matchup.

1. Derrick Rose, Bulls » Chicago had success without its star point guard during the regular season, going 18-9 in games Rose missed. But Rose was the team's lone game-changer. The Bulls are still good enough to make a run to the conference finals, but Chicago can't just outwork its way past the elite teams.

- Jeffrey Tomik

jtomik@washingtonexaminer.com

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