Originally created 05/26/01

Iverson questionable for Game 3

PHILADELPHIA - Allen Iverson's injured tailbone might force him to miss Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Iverson flew with the Philadelphia 76ers to Milwaukee on Friday afternoon, but his status for today will be a game-time decision.

"I'll make a final decision tomorrow," Iverson said from the team plane. "If I have to adjust my game, then I won't play. I don't know how to play any way other than the way I play."

Sixers coach Larry Brown preferred Iverson stay home and get more rest.

"I don't want him going out there where he can't play and it affects him the next game," Brown said. "We wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for him and what he's done. It's a pretty sensitive thing, and I think the decision has to come from him. I can advise him, but ultimately he's going to make the determination if he plays or not."

Iverson, who has fought injuries all season, struggled Thursday night as the Bucks beat Philadelphia 92-78 to even the best-of-seven series at one apiece.

The NBA's MVP and scoring champion missed 15 of his first 17 shots and finished 5-of-26, including 0-of-8 from 3-point range.

After the game, Iverson, who always wants to play despite any injury, said he has to consider sitting out if he's hurting the team.

"I don't think he's ever hurt our team," Brown said. "In his mind, he knows he can play better. We need him, considering who we don't have."

In Milwaukee, the Bucks said they were expecting Iverson to play.

"I'll be very surprised if he doesn't play," Ray Allen said.

The 76ers lost to the Bucks 87-78 on March 17, as Iverson remained in Philadelphia resting a left hip pointer, but coach George Karl warned that the Sixers were capable of beating his team even if Iverson sits out.

Karl said he was concerned about a letdown.

"It's human nature - being too happy over a very good win," Karl said. "As much as my team has responded to a tough loss, we've also had a tendency to be too happy over a good win.

"Philadelphia is not going away, they are a very proud team, and they're going to come out with something we're going to have to handle tomorrow. So I don't think happy would be part of the formula to handle that."

The Sixers are without injured forward George Lynch (broken foot); backup center Matt Geiger continues to miss games because of tendinitis in his right quadriceps; and guard Eric Snow is slowed by an ankle injury.

Aaron McKie, who assumes the role of primary scorer if Iverson doesn't play, agreed with his coach.

"He's not hurting us. He got us to this point, so we're going to live and die with what he does," McKie said. "If he takes 50 shots and misses 49 of them, we're going to live with it. That's how he got us to this point, and he wants to carry us and that's what he does."

And if Iverson isn't on the court, McKie said, "Then we're going to live and die with me."

Iverson injured his left hip while diving for a loose ball in the first quarter of a game at Boston on March 11. He sat out one game, returned to play against Sacramento then missed the next four games.

He also missed two games in April with a tailbone contusion. But Iverson said this injury, sustained in Game 7 of the conference semifinals against Toronto, hurts more.

Since scoring 52 points against the Raptors in Game 5 of their series, Iverson is averaging 22.8 points on just 32-of-112 (29 percent) shooting in four games.

After missing his first nine shots in Game 1, Iverson finished with 34 points. But he never recovered after a horrible start Thursday.

"It's like hitting a bone with a hammer and it's bruised," Sixers general manager Billy King said, describing the injury. "It's tough for him to push off, to run and lift, but we have to play. The league isn't going to delay it or postpone it until he's ready.

"When you get to this point, you don't know how many times you're going to get here again. I talked to Allen after the game, and that's what he said. The one good thing about Allen is he knows his body. When he sat out, he knew he couldn't play."

Philadelphia was 6-5 without Iverson in the regular season, but the team knows the playoffs are much different.

"In the regular season, you can get away with it a little bit, but in the playoffs, it's a little tough," McKie said. "We know we can do it - it's not impossible - but we have to go in there and do everything perfect, go in there focused and be ready from the start."


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