CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After playing through the pain for a week, a left foot injury has forced Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson out of Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Miami Heat.
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford ruled Jefferson out of Monday's game after the team initially declared him doubtful following its shootaround. The Heat hold a 3-0 lead entering Game 4, and no team in NBA history has overcome that deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
Jefferson initially injured his foot as he tried to plant and cut toward the basket late in the first quarter of the Heat's 99-88 victory in Game 1. The Bobcats' leading scorer and rebounder has taken multiple pain-numbing injections to enable him to continue playing.
"I wouldn't wish this [pain] on anybody," said Jefferson, who averaged 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in the series' first three games. "This is the worst pain I've dealt with in my career."
The combination of having only one day off between Games 3 and 4 and Jefferson's pain worsening in recent days forced the team to shut him down for a game. Clifford said he was hopeful Jefferson could return for Game 5 in Miami on Wednesday if the Bobcats avoid being swept Monday.
"Just one day between games wasn't enough," Clifford said about two hours before the start of Monday's game. "He tried hard, and the medical staff here is magnificent and they did everything they could. It's just getting more and more ... the soreness, you know."
Clifford said Jefferson likely would have missed two or three weeks had the injury occurred in the regular season. Jefferson, a nine-year veteran, is in his first season with the Bobcats after signing as a free agent last summer. He helped lead Charlotte to its first playoff appearance in four years.
Bismack Biyombo started in Jefferson's place Monday night.