CHARLOTTE – Bobcats center Al Jefferson said that while his left foot remains extremely sore, he plans to play in Game 2 of the best-of-seven playoff series Wednesday night against Miami Heat.
“I’m suiting up,” Jefferson said Monday. “It’s going to take more than that to make me sit out. We have worked too hard to get to this point.”
Jefferson injured his foot in the first quarter of Sunday’s 99-88 loss to the two-time defending NBA champions.
Charlotte’s leading scorer skipped a light team workout Monday and said he doesn’t plan to practice today. That means he won’t test out the foot until the shoot around period Wednesday morning.
His left foot remains in a walking boot and he’ll continue to receive treatment for the next two days.
First-year coach Steve Clifford said the medical staff informed him Jefferson doesn’t run the risk of serious injury if he continues to play on the injured foot.
Clifford also said the injury won’t require any surgery this offseason.
“There would be no long term effects, nothing that could be permanent going forward. So that part we’re not worried about,” Clifford said.
In essence, the injury is all about the 6-foot-10, 289-pound Jefferson managing the pain, something the 10-year NBA veteran said he didn’t do well in Game 1 even though he finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
“I have to adjust to the pain,” Jefferson said. “I have to go out there and know that it’s going to be there and have that mindset. To me that will make me handle it a lot better. Last game it came out of nowhere and I didn’t know what I was limited to and what I could and couldn’t do. Now I know.”
Jefferson received two pain killer injections during Sunday’s game after injuring the foot in the first quarter while coming off a double screen.
He said he will continue to receive injections to handle the pain throughout the series.
“They are going to be my new best friend,” he said with a laugh.
After Sunday’s game, Heat center/power forward Chris Bosh said Miami went after Jefferson to test his injured foot.
The Bobcats are expecting the Heat will run plenty of pick and rolls at Jefferson to test his mobility in Game 2.
But Clifford seems more worried about Jefferson’s play on the offensive end, rather this ability to adjust on defense.
“I thought it hampered him a lot more offensively than defensively,” Clifford said. “We watched on film a couple of the pick and rolls and he defended them fine. His problem is he can’t pivot hard off that foot and that is such a big part of his game – the quick spins, going one way, faking and going back the other way.
“I thought it hurt his offense a lot more than his defense.”
Point guard Kemba Walker, who led the Bobcats in scoring in Game 1, said he and his teammates are going to have to help pick up the slack if Jefferson is limited.
“I definitely think I have to increase my level of play and be a lot more aggressive offensively,” Walker said. “Other guys as well. I think everyone is looking forward to that challenge.”
Clifford’s other concern heading into Game 2 is limiting turnovers.
Charlotte turned over the ball 15 times, which led to 20 points for the Heat.
“They don’t need 20 points,” Jefferson said.
Said Clifford: “We need maximum concentration and maximum intensity, starting with the turnovers. You have to concentrate on the reasons you win and you play well. I think we can do better.”