Back in action
Iverson plans to play in Game 4 Monday
Updated: Monday May 28, 2001 5:00 PM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Allen Iverson said Sunday he will definitely play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"I don't feel that much better, but as long as I can run up and down the court, I'll be all right," Iverson said.
Iverson shot jumpers with his teammates Sunday but did not do any running. Like other members of the team, Iverson had an upbeat attitude that would ordinarily be ill-suited for a team facing the closest thing to a must win.
The 76ers seemed to draw some inspiration from their six-point loss, emerging with a heightened sense of pride for playing such a close game despite the NBA's MVP staying behind at the team hotel and watching the game on TV.
"I was so happy with their effort; I couldn't wait for them to get back to the hotel so I could tell them. I almost jumped in a cab," Iverson said.
By the time Game 4 tips off at 5:30 p.m. EDT Monday, Iverson will have had about 90 hours worth of recuperation.
His injury is officially listed as a left sacroiliac contusion. The sacroiliac joint connects the hip to the buttocks. The injury makes it difficult for Iverson to run -- a huge detriment to a player who relies so heavily on speed.
"It's the kind of injury that gets better with rest, and he has unbelievable healing powers and an unbelievable pain threshold, so we'll see," head coach Larry Brown said. "If this kid can play, whatever he can give us we'll be happy with."
Injuries have hampered both teams since the middle of the second round, and 76ers forward Tyrone Hill is playing despite a family emergency. His father, Eddie, 66, is in a Cincinnati hospital after having two strokes in the past two weeks that were caused by diabetes.
Reserve forward Matt Geiger said he was 95 percent certain he would be unable to play Monday because of quadriceps tendinitis.
Brown said he was surprised Saturday when Geiger changed into street clothes and sat out the game.
"He shaved his head, he had therapy, a rubdown and an adjustment. The only thing he didn't have was a pedicure, so I don't know. I have no idea with Matt," Brown said.
The 76ers shot just 36 percent from the field and missed 11 free throws in Game 3 yet managed to keep the game close by controlling the tempo and playing intense defense.
Bucks head coach George Karl put his own spin on Game 3, dismissing talk that it was an ugly affair while arguing that Milwaukee had proved it could beat the Sixers in different ways -- with the high-octane offense they prefer or the slow-paced style the 76ers like.
"I think they put their eggs on going after one win. Last night, they went out and said let's see if we can outhustle them and outwork them," Karl said. "And they did a good job with it. And guess what? We did a good job with it, too. And tomorrow, they come in with their big guns."
Karl told his team to expect the same defensive intensity from Philadelphia in Game 4 with Iverson providing the offensive firepower that was missing in Game 3.
"It's an urgent game. If we're not ready for basically a seventh-game mentality from them, I think we'll be in trouble," Karl said. "They're going to give us everything tomorrow. They're going to try to take it back to Philadelphia even."
Cassell, wearing a flak jacket to protect ribs bruised in the semifinals against Charlotte, had the wind knocked out of him when he banged into Snow with two minutes left. He said he was still sore but would be ready to play Monday.
When Karl wasn't expressing his displeasure with all the discussion of injuries, he singled out center Ervin Johnson for praise.
Johnson shot 4-for-4 with 13 rebounds and two blocks, arguably outplaying Dikembe Mutombo.
"His individual defense on Mutombo, where we don't have to double-team Mutombo, and then his team defense around the basket and rebounding, he's just gone to a different level. This is the best basketball he's ever played," Karl said.
History has not been kind to teams that fall behind 3-1 in a best-of-seven series. Only six teams in NBA history have come back from such a deficit, the last being the Miami Heat in 1997 against the New York Knicks.
Game 5 will be played Wednesday night in Philadelphia, and Game 6, if necessary, would be Friday night in Milwaukee.
"The pendulum swings tomorrow to the team that wins, and I hope that's us," Karl said.
If the Bucks win the next two games, the NBA Finals would begin
next Sunday in Los Angeles. If the series goes six games or more,
the Finals will begin June 6. Los Angeles beat San Antonio 111-82
on Sunday to sweep the Western Conference finals.