If there were a Game 5 to be played in the Bobcats-Heat series, Al Jefferson would likely have been on the court.
Jefferson, the team’s MVP, went from doubtful to out with a nagging plantar fascia injury, and the center watched as his Bobcats fell to the Heat 109-98 in Game 4 on Monday night.
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said the one day off between games for Jefferson wasn’t enough. Jefferson didn’t participate in the shootaround on Monday morning.
Jefferson, who likened the injury he suffered in the first quarter of Game 1 to stepping on nails, would likely have sat out two to three weeks if it were the regular season, Clifford said.
Without Jefferson, the Bobcats were 5-4 in the regular season but missed his 21.8 points and 10.8 rebounds.
“Regardless of what happens (Monday), this has been a wonderful season,” Jefferson said before the game. “We need to continue to build and continue to get better.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he wanted Jefferson to play.
“Now you have a situation where there’s a little bit of an unknown and you don’t want one of those to turn into a spark,” Spoelstra said before the game. “You don’t know which way they will go with the lineup and how the team will react.”
Starting in his place was Bismack Biyombo, who finished with seven points and eight rebounds. He and rookie Cody Zeller shared post duties as Zeller contributed one point and two rebounds in 15 minutes.
James attempted to get up immediately but grabbed his right knee and thigh area. He was helped up by his teammates and walked gingerly to the bench on his own.
James appeared mobile on the offensive end on a few drives to the basket and would show a gimp on his trip down to the defensive end of the floor.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had known “Dr. Jack” since he was 8 years old. Having grown up in Portland, Spoelstra knew Ramsay from his days as the Trail Blazers’ coach, and later with the Heat as an announcer.
“He garnered so much respect from generations of players and coaches, which is amazing,” Spoelstra said. “His legacy is incredible – a Hall of Famer – and as a man it’s bigger than that.”
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said he didn’t know Ramsay well but knew people who were close to Ramsay, and Clifford said it was “a sad day for coaches, the NBA and his family.”
Ramsay won the 1977 NBA championship with Portland. He was named one of the NBA’s 10 greatest coaches in 1996.
By the numbers
10 of the first 12 Bobcats points were scored by Kemba Walker
2 made 3-pointers by the Heat in their first 11 attempts through the first half
24 more points the Heat scored than the Bobcats in the third quarter of Charlotte home games this series
19 field-goal attempts by Gary Neal, the most he had all season as a member of the Bucks or Bobcats
0 playoff wins in eight tries for the Bobcats franchise
5 players on each team with double-digit points