When the news broke that David Lee was active and expected to play for the Warriors in Game 6 against the Nuggets, it was somewhat shocking, to say the least.
Lee was supposed to be out for the season, after suffering a torn hip flexor muscle in Game 1 of the series.
Lee didn’t do much more than give his team an emotional lift, and played just 1:27. The fact that he couldn’t really do any more damage to the injury that he categorized as “a completely torn muscle off the bone” gave him the idea to give it a go, but don’t expect him to be available to do much more than that in his team’s second round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.
From Sam Amick of USA Today:
Asked if he could play a big role against the Spurs, Lee said, “Significant part like playing 30 minutes? Zero (chance).”
While Lee’s appearance in the team’s layup line before the game was a shock to fans and media on hand, the fact that Lee knew he could fix any damage done in the offseason led to his decision to give it a go.
“I saw tonight as an elimination game for both teams,” Lee said. “We didn’t want to have to go back to Denver (for Game 7). I tried to do whatever I could. I didn’t know it would respond. There’s those nights when you feel awful and then you get on the court and you feel pretty good. Tonight, after I shot that jumper, I went to backpedal and my leg was nonexistent.”
Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said a day after his team eliminated the Nuggets that he would continue to use Lee in short spurts if he’s feeling like he can go, but he’s also not going to place any expectations on his All-Star big man considering his diminished condition.
The bottom line seems to be that Lee may get to the point where he can play three or four minutes with his injury instead of the one and a half he was able to give his team in Game 6. But Jackson isn’t going to rush it, and Lee, despite his best efforts, isn’t likely to get much better than that without an offseason’s worth of rehabilitation, which could very possibly include surgery.