Heat have no sympathy for Bobcats, ailing star Al Jefferson
MIAMI — Don’t expect the Miami Heat to feel bad for ailing Charlotte center Al Jefferson and the Bobcats as the teams’ first-round Eastern Conference series continues.
"Nobody feels bad for me," said Dwyane Wade, who sat 28 games during the regular season mostly to protect his knees.
Jefferson, a dominating low-post force, suffered a plantar fascia injury early in Miami’s 99-88 Game 1 victory on Sunday. He needed two in-game injections and left the arena in a walking boot that will remain on until Wednesday. Still, he returned and finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds in 35 minutes.
The Bobcats said Jefferson can’t damage the injury further, and his availability for Wednesday night’s Game 2 will depend on the player’s pain tolerance.
Heat center/forward Chris Bosh, who suffered plantar fasciitis in 2007 when with Toronto, agreed with that assessment.
"I didn’t pop mine and I didn’t need pain shots," Bosh said after the Heat’s practice Tuesday. "It hurts, plantar fascia hurts, and there’s nothing you can do as a basketball player to not make it hurt.
"He’s going to have to play through pain."
Mario Chalmers did not practice Tuesday due to a bruised shin, but the Heat point guard’s absence would not have an effect on the series like Jefferson’s would.
Udonis Haslem, who started opposite Jefferson in Game 1, also has endured plantar fasciitis during his career.
Haslem said Jefferson’s injury would not affect his mindset in defending the big Bobcat.
"I don’t know if he’s hurt. I know that’s what they say, but I don’t treat it any differently," Haslem said. "I’m going to go out there and play like Al Jefferson is 199 percent."
Even with a healthy Jefferson, Charlotte faced a difficult task in trying to upend the two-time defending NBA champions in a seven-game series. The 6-foot-10 center not only helped make the paint a tough place for opponents to work, he combined with Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker to form a potent inside-outside attack.
"We don’t make any adjustments, we come out with the same gameplan," LeBron James said. "Obviously, Jefferson and Kemba are our No. 1 and No. 2 priorities.
"If Jefferson is laboring a little bit, obviously I think they’ll go to Kemba a little bit more. (They’ll) put Kemba in more pick-and-rolls, put him in more catch-and-shoot situations to get or defense moving. But my approach and our team’s approach shouldn’t change."
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra agreed.
"It doesn’t change what we’re doing," Spoelstra said. "You hope that everybody’s healthy.
"He was able to establish a big low-post presence in the first half (of Game 1). He’ll still be able to do that if he’s in the game. He was able to do that in the second half even though he was a little bit hobbled."