On top of trailing 2-0 in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series with the Miami Heat, the Charlotte Hornets were dealt some more bad news last night.
Small forward Nicolas Batum rolled his ankle last night after accidentally treading on rookie Justise Winslow's foot.
The Frenchmen already missed the final game of the regular season with a sore left ankle, and it appears as though the problem hasn't gone away.
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Batum's frontcourt partner, Al Jefferson, was pessimistic about his teammate's chances of returning during this playoff series.
"It looked bad when it happened," Jefferson said. "Looking at his ankle now, it's pretty bad.
"That's part of the game. I feel like, me, personally, I don't think he will be able to come back."
It would be a tremendous blow for the Hornets if that proves to be the case. Kemba Walker has made the majority of the headlines this season with his explosive play from the one spot a hallmark of this progressive Charlotte unit.
However, after being a part of a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers last summer, Batum has gone on to exhibit career-high averages of 14.9 points a night and 5.8 assists to form an important part of the Hornets offence.
When head coach Steve Clifford was asked how concerned he was following Batum's injury, the tactician answered succinctly and ominously.
"Very," Clifford said. "We won't know anything until tomorrow, but there was soreness, obviously. And we'll just see."
Now that Charlotte are welcoming Miami to the Time Warner Cable Arena for their home stretch of the series, it's a big blow to lose Batum for two games that are considered must-win affairs.
If the Hornets have any hope of getting back into the series, they need to pick up a win in their next two encounters or a series sweep could be on the cards.
Naturally, Jefferson doesn't want to see that happen. The 31-year-old believes now is the time for a few role players to step out from the shadows and take on Batum's workload.
"He's a warrior, and if he can work it out, he'll be fine," Jefferson said. "Guys will have to step up. Jeremy Lamb, Troy Daniels. Guys will have to be ready to play and fill in some big shoes."
The Hornets has lost 12 straight playoff games, a record that is only second in history to the New York Knicks from 2001-12. That's not a great omen heading into this crucial games with a Miami side who have been flying in a new fast-paced offence since the All-Star break.
Will Batum's injury cost Charlotte dear?