Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said he’s been advised by the team’s medical staff there’s no risk in playing center Al Jefferson with his strained plantar fascia.
“There are no long-term effects – nothing that could be permanent,” Clifford replied, when asked if there is danger in Jefferson continuing to play in this best-of-seven series against the Miami Heat.
The series resumes Wednesday night in Miami (7 p.m., TNT and SportSouth). The Bobcats held a light practice Monday morning at their training facility in Charlotte. Jefferson did not participate, sitting in the practice gym in a walking boot to protect his left foot.
Jefferson felt a “pop” in his foot and immediate severe pain during the first quarter of Sunday’s 99-88 loss to the Heat. He said he “ripped” his plantar fascia, a fibrous connective tissue that stretches along the bottom of the foot. He needed two pain-killing injections in order to finish the game.
Jefferson shot 4-of-4 from the field before the injury. He shot 5-of-13 following the injury. He had difficulty getting up-and-down the court Sunday and was noticeably limping in the post-game news conference.
Jefferson had a magnetic resonance imaging, which examines soft-tissue injuries, on Monday morning. The results of that test were not immediately available.
Clifford said he felt Jefferson’s injury affected him more offensively than defensively versus the Heat.
“The problem is he can’t pivot off his (bad) foot,” said Clifford, mentioning a key element in Jefferson’s low-post moves.
It’s unclear whether Jefferson will be well enough to practice Tuesday before the team flies back toMiami or participate in shootaround Wednesday morning.
If Jefferson is limited, that likely puts additional burden on point guard Kemba Walker, the team’s second-leading scorer. With Jefferson less effective in post-ups, the Bobcats went with more pick-and-roll plays in the second half. Walker scored 14 of his team-high 20 points in the second half.
However Walker also committed a game-high six turnovers.
Walker sounded confident Jefferson would find a way to play the rest of the playoff series.
“It’s always tough to lose your best player,” Walker said. “I’m sure he’ll tough through it. I know how badly he wants it.”
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell