Facing an apparently already insurmountable 3-0 hole against the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Charlotte Bobcats will now likely have to stave off elimination in Game 4 Monday night without their best player.
Al Jefferson, who suffered a strained left plantar fascia and has struggled with his mobility during the series, has officially been listed as doubtful for Monday’s game. Jefferson is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Jefferson has been one of the few bright spots for the Bobcats during the series despite the injury, and he did not participate in the team’s shoot around Monday morning.
Coach Steve Clifford told members of the media following the shoot around that Jefferson’s status was in doubt.
“He’s not close to where he was for the last two games,” Clifford said. “I know how badly Al wants to play. The most upset person about this is him. So, its’ frustrating, but again it’s a part of pro sports.”
Clifford also said that Bismack Biyambo will get the starting nod should Jefferson not be able to play. Biyombo has played just 15 minutes during the playoffs and scored one point.
Jefferson averaged 21.8 points a game and 10.8 rebounds a game during the regular season and has scored 20, 18, and 18 points respectively in the Bobcats’ first three playoff games.
Jefferson said he is not ruling himself out yet and might try to give things a go, but would monitor his situation carefully throughout the rest of the day until game time at 7 p.m.
Jefferson has described the injury as one that feels like he is “walking on needles.”
“I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone,” Jefferson said. “It’s the worse pain I’ve ever dealt with in my career.”