Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford and center Al Jefferson are "very concerned" about Nicolas Batum's ankle sprain, the duo said at a post-game presser. Batum rolled his ankle after stepping on Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow's foot midway through the fourth quarter of Game 2. He immediately left the game and did not return.
Coach Clifford spoke to the media at a post-game press conference, telling them that he's "very concerned" with the condition of Batum's ankle.
Clifford: "Very concerned" with Batum's ankle. Will know more tomorrow. Sore.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) April 21, 2016
Soon after, Jefferson told reporters that he doesn't think Batum will return for the rest of the series.
Al Jefferson says Nic Batum's ankle looks back and he personally doesn't think that he will come back this series.— Justin Verrier (@JustinVerrier) April 21, 2016
Batum hurt this same ankle back on Apr. 11 against the Boston Celtics and missed the Hornets' season finale against the Orlando Magic. The team felt he was healthy enough to play in Game 1, and it certainly looked like it. He finished Game 1 with 24 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and quite frankly was one of the only Hornets fully engaged for most of the game.
This is a crushing blow for the Hornets, especially as they head back to Charlotte for Game 3 in a series they're losing 0-2. The Hornets have been very good at home this season, but Batum's impact on the team's offense is irreplaceable. He's the key cog that allows Kemba Walker to play off-ball from time to time, which has played a considerable role in Walker's breakout season.
We'll update you with more information as it comes in.