Watson has MRI on elbow, hopes to return this weekend
C.J. Watson continues to be bothered by his right elbow and will miss his fourth straight game Tuesday night when the Boston Celtics are in town.
The seventh-year pro had an MRI on Monday, an off day for the team, but he didn’t say what was concluded. He’s been dealing with mostly pain for over a week now, since he injured it in the Pacers’ 94-91 home win over the Utah Jazz — a game he started for George Hill, who was sidelined with a bruised left shoulder.
“A lot of popping and clicking in my elbow since last Tuesday or Wednesday,” Watson said of his injury. “I haven’t tried to shoot yet. Just did some dribbling yesterday and stuff like that. I felt a little better.”
They’ll evaluate and test his sprained right elbow further at Thursday’s practice, and Watson is aiming to return Friday (at Philadelphia) or Saturday (in Detroit).
Watson experienced a similar injury two years ago while playing for the Chicago Bulls. In January of the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, he missed nine games for what he described as a dislocated right elbow.
Watson flies under the radar and doesn’t get a lot of credit with the Pacers, but it’s become abundantly clear over the last week why he was team president Larry Bird’s first target in free agency. In over 19 minutes per game, the 29-year-old is averaging 6.3 points and 1.7 assists while turning it over less than one time per game. Simply steady.
Turnovers have hurt the team all season, particularly in the last three games where they’ve been careless with the ball more than 19 times per game. That’s at least 19 times when they don’t get a shot off.
“When you’re trying to work in Evan Turner with the second unit and then your backup point guard is not out there to help organize, that certainly impacts it a little bit,” said coach Frank Vogel. It’s something we got to overcome.”
In his absence, the bench guys have also struggled. The bench was outscored 41-4 in a loss at Dallas where they were outplayed and outhustled. Lance Stephenson, the leader of the second unit, said they miss having their floor general.
“Definitely with scoring and having that point guard out there that can control the floor and help us make smart plays on the floor,” he said. “We’re definitely missing that in the second unit.
While left to watch his teammates from the bench, Watson says the Pacers’ problems as of late are the same ones they’ve dealt with all year.
“We had a lot of turnovers last game,” he said. “I think last game we had a better effort than when we played Houston and Charlotte. Just lack of energy. Just got to go out there and play harder and make the plays count.”
Vogel remains his optimistic self as they try to work through their first funk of the year. Coach just wouldn’t call it that.
“We’re not that far from who we are,” he said. “It’s just a matter of putting together a complete basketball game.”