Originally created 04/28/00

Ailing Sixers have backcourt pains



PHILADELPHIA -- Allen Iverson's right elbow feels worse every day while Eric Snow's right ankle is encased in a protective boot. With an ailing backcourt, the Philadelphia 76ers may be forced to rely on role players in Game 3 of their first-round NBA playoff series against Charlotte.

Iverson practiced Thursday and said the inflammation in his elbow got worse overnight. But he plans to play against the Hornets when the Eastern Conference series, tied at 1, resumes Friday.

"The only way I won't play is if the doctor amputated it," said Iverson, who also has a fractured left toe.

Snow's status, however, will be a game-time decision. He sustained a chip fracture in his ankle during Game 1 Saturday and aggravated it in Game 2 Monday. Snow removed the protective boot and shot free throws for a few minutes following Thursday's practice.

"I don't know how it's going to respond until (Friday)," Snow said. "It's gotten better every day. I hope it continues to do that. I didn't feel any pain shooting free throws. I don't know what that necessarily means."

Iverson, who scored a career playoff-high 40 points in the Sixers' victory in Game 1, matched a career-low 13 points in Monday's loss. Meanwhile, Snow has been superb, averaging 14.5 points and 11 assists in the series.

If Snow can't play, Aaron McKie will start at point guard and reserve Kevin Ollie will get significant minutes. Iverson also may spend time running the point.

"I don't know what to do really," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "Kevin's here, Aaron's here, Allen's here so that's why you have 12 men on your team. I know (Snow) wants to play."

Charlotte coach Paul Silas expects to see Snow in the lineup.

"A chipped bone won't keep him out," he said.

If the injury sidelines Snow, Charlotte point guard David Wesley realizes the Sixers could be in trouble.

"You've got to think, with his assist-to-turnover ratio (3.2-to-1), the way he runs the plays and gets all the guys involved, especially the way he's been shooting the ball lately, it's got to hurt them," Wesley said.

McKie, who has run the floor at times during the season, is not a natural point guard and doesn't pressure as well as Snow on defense. Ollie averaged 7.3 minutes per game in the regular season and played one minute in each game this series.

"It'll be a big loss," McKie said about Snow's possible absence. "He's our leader. He's like a coach out there. We feel confident we can go in and win, but it would take more effort. . . Me, Allen and Kevin, as a trio, have to step up and fill those shoes."

The Sixers let a lead slip away in the final minutes of Game 2 before losing by 10 in overtime. Former Sixer Derrick Coleman was the difference, scoring eight of his game-high 29 points in overtime.

Philadelphia's big men -- Tyrone Hill, Theo Ratliff and Matt Geiger -- will have to contain Coleman and his front-line mates, Elden Campbell and Anthony Mason.

"I don't think me, Theo or Matt have played our best games yet," Hill said. "When we think about the way we played during the regular season, we haven't played to that level yet. We've played good games, but we can take it up another level."

The Sixers expect the fans to help them raise their game to that next level. After playing before a crowd of 11,686 in Charlotte on Monday, the Sixers have a sell-out crowd of more than 20,000 waiting to see them Friday night.

"Our fans are the best," McKie said. "I haven't seen any fans around the league like this. They're great. We feed off their energy. They feed off our energy. It's a great combination, gives us a boost."



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