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Fractured finger won’t keep Fox out of Game 5

De’Aaron Fox plans to play through his avulsion fracture when the series returns to Sacramento Wednesday night

2023 NBA Playoffs - Sacramento Kings v Golden State Warriors
De’Aaron Fox defiantly holds up his broken finger during Game 4
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s been some legendary gutty performances in Sacramento Kings playoff history. Peja Stojakovic played on a sprained ankle in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Brad Miller played on a recently-broken leg in 2005. And Domantas Sabonis overcame a devastating bruised sternum to gut it out in Games 3 and 4 last weekend.

Now, De’Aaron Fox will be joining that fraternity, announcing that his fractured left index finger won’t keep him from playing in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night.

Fox suffered an avulsion fracture to the tip of his left index finger, which is his shooting hand. That injury means that one of the muscles at the fingertip has pulled away from a small piece of bone. Fox was practicing shooting free throws on Tuesday with a splint on the finger, though his availability might depend on how well he can dribble with his finger wrapped.

There’s precedent for a player succeeding in spite of this injury. The most famous example is Kobe Bryant, who played the entire 2010 playoffs with an avulsion fracture to his finger, which he treated with a splint, and later a tape job developed by Lakers trainer Gary Vitti.

Will it affect Fox’s shooting and ballhandling? It’s hard to think the injury won’t, but Sacramento likely thinks an injured Fox is better than whoever might replace him. The Warriors, too, would probably rather take their chances with Davion Mitchell or Malik Monk running the Kings’ fast-paced offense.

It also comes down to Fox’s ability to play through the pain, but he hasn’t showed any hesitation to take physical contact during this series. We’ll see how he reacts the first time Draymond Green of Andrew Wiggins hits his injured hand while slapping at the ball. And not necessarily in a dirty way! Fingers get hit all the time in unexpected ways - Fox isn’t even sure whether it was Wiggins or Jordan Poole who hit his hand in the first place.

Don’t rule out the deceptively-strong Poole, who gave Ja Morant a bone bruise last playoffs, according to the highly dubious claims of Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins. But it apparently wasn’t the fault of Kevon Looney, whose contact to Fox’s finger only confirmed to Fox that he was hurt.

But the Warriors shouldn’t take even an injured Fox lightly, considering he scored seven points and grabbed two rebounds after the fracture. He also hit a giant three-pointer to cut the Warriors’ lead to a single point late.

The Kings will need all ten of Fox’s fingers to defeat the Warriors. Klay Thompson, however, only needs four to show people how many rings he has.

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