Watson aiming to return on Wednesday in Milwaukee
After shootaround Sunday morning, C.J. Watson was unusually cheerful on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse floor when reporters were allowed in. He was competing in the daily shooting contest that follows practices and shootarounds, which today featured Watson, Donald Sloan, Solomon Hill, Rasual Butler, and Chris Copeland.
His broad smile and positive demeanor was because he’s targeting to return on Wednesday up in Milwaukee. That leaves him all day Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to receive treatment and get his body right before stepping onto the game floor for the first time in almost a month.
“I feel a lot better,” Watson said. “That’s why I’m a little more cheerful than usual. Just trying to get back out there.”
Watson was first sidelined four games in early March after he sprained his right elbow in a loss to Golden State. He came back March 14th in Philadelphia, but was limited to eight minutes because he strained his right hamstring when he was hit with an offensive at the 6:42 mark of the second quarter.
Watson revealed on Sunday that it hasn’t been the hamstring strain, a Grade 1 injury, as much as the elbow still bothering him.
“During the process I had a couple of hiccups,” he said. “My elbow swelled up, so that’s what set me back more. (The) hamstring is getting a lot better. Just a little tight when I still run and sprint so it’s going to be some discomfort and pain.
“Both of them have a part to play in it. Hamstring is getting a lot better but the elbow the reason why I’ve been out the last couple of games.”
The elbow injury, one he dealt with two years ago in Chicago, still irritates him when he shoots and passes — two key elements when he’s on the floor. As for the hamstring, he’s running on the side and riding an elliptical trying to get his legs back under him as well as continuing to lift weights.
Including Sunday’s meeting with Atlanta, Watson will have missed 17 of their last 18 games and 13 straight. Third-string point guard Donald Sloan, a more up-tempo player, has filled most of his minutes. He’s averaging 3.4 points, a rebound and an assist in about 10 minutes per game over the last 10 games.
Lance Stephenson, the leader of the second unit, says the team misses Watson’s experience and steadiness on the court.
“We definitely needs C.J.’s smart point guard decisions and just knowing what to do on the floor,” said the fourth-year player. “We need him back. Especially in the second unit, bringing that energy he brings. He’s a great shooter. He don’t think about it, he just pulls it.”
Watson is eager to rejoin his teammates, but he does expect to deal with these issues for the rest of the season.
“I’m trying to get back so I can at least have a couple games so I can somehow get a rhythm and see if I can really play through the discomfort and the pain,” he said. “We’ll just go from there.”