Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson sounded optimistic at morning shootaround about his ability to perform tonight against the Miami Heat, three days removed from a Plantar Fascia injury.
“I can’t say there won’t be any kind of pain. But I feel like every hour it’s getting better and better,” Jefferson said, his left foot in a protective boot. “It’s responding really well. I should be good for tonight.”
Jefferson strained his left Plantar Fascia – the connective tissue between his heel bone and his toes – in the first quarter of Sunday’s Game 1 of this playoff series. He made all four of his shots from the field before the injury, then was 5-of-13 the rest of the game.
Jefferson suffered pain so severe he needed two injections to stay in Sunday’s 99-88 loss. The question for tonight is not just Jefferson’s availability, but his effectiveness, playing with this injury.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
“I don’t think we’ll really know until the game starts,” said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford. “If he can be effective, we’ll play him. If not, we’ll get him out.”
The only other potentially significant injury for either team involves Heat point guard Mario Chalmers. He sat out practice Tuesday and was limited in shootaround Wednesday by a shin bruise. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Chalmers’ availability will be a game-time decision.
The Bobcats have treated Jefferson’s injury with electric stimulation and laser technology. But mostly this is about resting his foot inside that protective boot. Jefferson got the boot refitted after realizing the first one he got was too small.
Spoelstra anticipates the Bobcats running more pick-and-rolls tonight to take some burden off Jefferson’s post-up game. But the Heat is preparing like Jefferson will be his normal self.
“We’re going to treat him like he’s 100 percent,” said Heat center-forward Chris Bosh. “He’s one of the league’s best post players. You can’t just let him get to the spots he wants. He’s got two moves that are almost unstoppable.”
n Game I the Heat guarded Jefferson primarily with Udonis Haslem, for his ability to deny post players their optimum spots on the floor.
“What separates UD is his intellect, his savvy. It’s not just brute force,” Spoelstra said.