Notebook: Jefferson on Ice for Week To Rest Ankle
You can see it in his face, and he even admitted it as much Wednesday night. Al Jefferson is sick of his ankle woes, and he's sick of talking about it, too.
But until he can get some rest, the problem won't go away, so he was put on the shelf Wednesday for at least the next three games, and will probably practice again starting Tuesday at the earliest when the team prepares for a road game with the Knicks in New York.
"We'll see how I feel Tuesday. Doc [Rivers] said he could tell that it was affecting my game," said Jefferson. "It was restrictive to me when I go out there and can't do what I do. I tried to play through it but obviously it wasn't working."
Jefferson sprained his right ankle in the second quarter of a the February 3 game against the Clippers when he came down on Chris Wilcox's foot under the basket. He missed almost a month of action, but aside from two road games at the beginning of March, he's been largely ineffective and a non-factor for the Celtics in his return, especially on the glass.
Rivers gave Jefferson the news about two hours before tip off Wednesday that he was shutting him down for about a week to give the injury some time to heal. Rivers watched videos of Jefferson from right before the injury and immediately following his return and felt that he wasn't going to benefit from playing through the pain any longer because the injury was drastically limiting what Jefferson could do on the court.
As coaches love to say, the video doesn't lie, and Rivers decided to shut him down to see if it would help him recover so he could finish the season strong.
"At least the next three, maybe longer," said Rivers of the games Jefferson will miss. "He just wasn't responding, obviously he couldn't move out on the floor. He was hurting the team and hurting himself."
Jefferson knew the ankle was limiting his game but wanted to play through the injury in March with the team chasing the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. But he struggled just getting up and down the floor, appeared to be out of breath several times and could barely jump off the floor.
"I mean, I can't move. I can't jump," said Jefferson. "The game against Indiana, instead of grabbing rebounds I was tapping them out. Before I got hurt, there was a big difference in how I was moving. Now I just can't move."
Jefferson says that the pain is "right on the bone" and is lucky that it didn't crack. He'd twisted his ankles a few times in high school but doesn't remember ever missing any time due to injury. That said, his first two ankle injuries in the NBA may have been prevented had he taped his ankles. According to Rivers, the Celtics don't require their players to tape up and many young players in the league resist tape jobs until they find out the hard way. Thankfully, Jefferson has learned his lesson. These days, he gets what the trainers call the "Karl Malone tape job", which is about as tight as humanly possible, or so Jefferson would have you believe.
But for now, the only thing Jefferson's ankles will be getting is rest.
"Like Doc told me today, it's the difference between playing with the injury or the injury keeping me from playing," said Jefferson.
Up until the injury, Jefferson felt like he was making progress with his game. The concern is now, how much will he regress after having to sit out for so long. Jefferson felt he was playing well before the injury, and his box scores back that up, as he posted a pair of double-doubles against the Timberwolves and Bucks and then scored 17 points against the Suns in the last game before he went down.
Rivers agreed, even saying that Jefferson had played his "three best games of the year" immediately before he hurt the ankle, but noted that Jefferson just "couldn't do that if he wanted to right now."
The only thing Jefferson wants to do right now is heal up and get back on the floor.
"I know there's a lot of worse things you can have than an ankle sprain," said Jefferson. "But I hate when I have an ankle sprain. I hate it. And I've had three since I've been in the league. It's tough to come back from and when you do come back you have to work your way back into your game, get your ankle back moving the way it was, and answer a lot of questions about 'how's your ankle feeling?' It's just something that I have to deal with."