UPDATE 6:50 pm: Bobcat’s coach Steve Clifford made it official — Al Jefferson is out for Game 4 Monday night. Bismack Biyombo gets the start in his place.
Clifford said if this were the regular season Jefferson would have been out 2-3 weeks at least, but he tried to play through it.
12:15 pm: Al Jefferson had the kind of season that should land him on an All-NBA team (second or more likely third). He has been brilliant inside averaging 21.8 points (shooting 50.9 percent) and 10.8 rebounds a game and leading the Bobcats all the way to the playoffs.
But because of a very painful strained plantar fascia (the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot), he has not moved well since the playoffs started and his scoring has suffered (18.7 points a game on 49 percent shooting). Jefferson and the Bobcats have fought gamely, but they trail the Heat 3-0 heading into Monday night’s game.
A game Jefferson appears likely to sit out, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Jefferson skipped the Monday shootaround due to the foot pain.
“He couldn’t do anything this morning. I would say it’s doubtful he’d be able to play,” (Bobcats’ coach Steve) Clifford said…
Asked about his level of pain, Jefferson said, “This has been like stepping on nails. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody….
“Regardless of what happens (tonight), this has been a wonderful season,” Jefferson said. “We need to continue to build and continue to get better.”
Jefferson is the Bobcats MVP and without him, and with the Heat likely focused to end this round and get some rest before facing the Bulls or Wizards, this may well be the end of the season for Charlotte.
It’s a season they should be proud of — they defended well for Clifford, they played hard, they took smart advantage of the assets they had. Charlotte set a foundation they can build on, and they made the postseason. It’s a year they can be proud of.
It’s a season Jefferson should be proud of as well. No matter how it ends.