Opponent: Minnesota Timberwolves
When: 12:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
Radio: KJR (950 AM)
Vlade still hurt
Barring something akin to a miracle, the Sonics do not expect to have injured forward Vlade Radmanovic back for the final three games of the regular season.
Even the first game of the playoffs, which is expected to be next Saturday, is starting to seem like a long shot.
Radmanovic suffered a stress fracture in his lower right leg back in mid-March. He has not played since a March 16 game at Detroit – Friday’s game against New Orleans was the 16th he has missed – having spent two weeks in a cast and another two weeks in a walking boot.
On Thursday, Radmanovic had the boot removed, which means he can walk normally in regular shoes. He is still restricted from running or any weight-bearing exercises, meaning he is doing nothing more strenuous than riding a stationary bicycle.
“I don’t have any pain,” he reported Friday. “There’s some stiffness in the ankle because I didn’t move it for four weeks, but hopefully with the treatment I’ve been doing that will go away and I’ll get a full range of motion back again.”
Radmanovic will not accompany the team on its upcoming season-ending road trip. He will instead stay in Seattle for therapy and individual workouts (he can shoot a basketball, but only if he is standing in place), along with additional evaluations by team doctors.
“We don’t have a time frame for when I can get back on the court,” Radmanovic said. “We’re just taking it day by day and seeing how it feels. We don’t want to do anything bad to get it sore again so we’d have to step back. It’s not sore right now, but they don’t want me to put too much pressure on it right away. They’re trying to gradually increase the level of pressure just to get used to it.”
Radmanovic will probably need at least one and perhaps two full days of practice to be game-ready. Because the Sonics play their regular-season finale on Wednesday and are expected to open the playoffs next Saturday, they should have practices Thursday and Friday. Radmanovic would likely have to have full-speed workouts on those days to be cleared for the playoff opener.
Assuming the Sonics get homecourt advantage in the first round, and because there are U2 concerts at KeyArena on Sunday and Monday, April 24 and 25, Seattle’s second playoff game will probably be Tuesday, April 26. Short of a setback, Radmanovic almost certainly would be ready for Game 2.
“My goal is to get ready for the playoffs,” he said. “But to make it happen, I have to be able to practice at least two or three times before a game. If I’m behind, then I guess I’ll have to rest for the first game and hopefully get ready for the second one.”
Thanks, fans: Because Friday night’s game was Seattle’s last home game of the regular season, several special events were scheduled.
Before the game, the entire roster was introduced, with the players coming down the aisles from the upper concourse, slapping hands with fans as they made their way to the court. During game timeouts, the Sonics showed video highlights from the season as well as taped messages of thanks from the coaches and players.
There were also several giveaways, including player jerseys and other gifts.
Keeping focus: Over the past few weeks, with Denver rapidly gaining ground on the Sonics, Seattle coach Nate McMillan has avoided getting too worried about the Nuggets.
“After the game you may look to see what happened,” he said. “But no, I don’t look at (Denver’s) schedule or who they’re playing. Our focus is on us and our opponents.”
McMillan also acknowledged that Seattle no doubt has skeptics around the league.
“A lot of people still don’t think what we’ve done is for real,” he said. “Some were saying it earlier (in the season) and some were waiting for us to lose some games like we’ve lost (in recent weeks). But as far as the coaches and players, we don’t talk at all. We talk about letting your play speak for you and taking it one game at a time. Once we get one game, then let’s get the next game. That’s been the focus of the team.”
Rich Myhre, Herald Writer