averaged 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game for the Bobcats
this season. (Issac Baldizon/Getty Images)
Bobcats forward Al Jefferson required multiple injections after suffering a strained plantar fascia in his left foot during a 99-88 Game 1 loss to the Heat in Miami on Sunday.
Jefferson began moving gingerly late in the first quarter. He departed for the locker room but returned to the court, laboring throughout the second half. He told reporters during his post-game comments that he received one injection when he first left the game and a second injection at halftime.
"I just heard something pop," he said. "It was a lot of pain. I really don't know all the details. I know I'll be OK. It's something you have to play through ... I don't like needles. It was very uncomfortable for me. I got [an injection] one right when it happened ... and I got one at halftime. It felt a lot better in the third quarter. ... It was something I had to get used to."
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Asked if he felt he would be limited by the injury as the rest of the first-round series unfolded, Jefferson did his best to keep a positive outlook.
"You've just got to suck it up, man," he said. "I'll be fine for the remainder of the playoffs."
CNN reported that Jefferson left the arena in a walking boot on Sunday.
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford sat Jefferson during the game's closing minutes, as the Heat were leading by double digits. Jefferson finished with 18 points (on 9-for-17 shooting) and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes.
"Some part of plantar fasciitis, which he's had [before], he got a rip or something," Clifford told reporters afterwards. "There's a lot of soreness. He took his shot so he could play. You've seen him play all year, he wasn't close to himself. He'll be day-to-day ... Those things are painful, it's going to be a problem."
The 29-year-old Jefferson led Charlotte in both scoring (21.8 points) and rebounding (10.8 rebounds) while posting a team-high 22.6 Player Efficiency Rating this season. Signed as a free agent last summer, Jefferson was one of the leading snubs for the 2014 All-Star Game and he has been mentioned as a possible All-NBA candidate.
Charlotte's upset hopes in the series were slim-to-none even with a fully healthy Jefferson, and his injury potentially puts the Bobcats behind the eight ball. Miami's defense held Charlotte's attack in check throughout the game, and Jefferson's low-post abilities were seen as one of a few match-up advantages the Bobcats possessed entering the series.
During three regular season games, the wide-bodied Jefferson averaged 25.3 points and 15.3 rebounds against the Heat, who often use small ball lineups, and the Bobcats reserve big men simply aren't capable of picking up that type of slack. On Sunday, rookie forward/center Cody Zeller finished with four points (on 2-for-3 shooting) and one rebound in 11 minutes. Reserve center Bismack Biyombo posted zero points and two rebounds in eight minutes.
"We're going to prepare for [Jefferson] no matter what, because he's a huge piece to their possible," Heat forward LeBron James said.
Miami, the East’s No. 2 seed, took a 1-0 series lead over Charlotte, the East’s No.7 seed. Game 2 is set for American Airlines Arena on Wednesday night.