LOS ANGELES, June 4 – Orlando Magic centre Dwight Howard says there is a time and a place for inserting players back into the lineup in the middle of a heated playoff experience.Howard said even though Jameer Nelson has a calming effect on his teammates, the Magic must be careful not to rush the all-star guard, or anyone for that matter, if they haven’t been practising and playing with the team on a daily basis.
"He’s rusty," Howard said after Wednesday’s Orlando practice to get ready for game one of the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. "He hasn’t had a lot of experience in playing. But the one thing he brings to our team is that he is fearless.
"When he is playing with no care in the world then that’s when everybody on our team follows behind."
Nelson was a superb in the Magic’s two regular season wins over the Lakers, scoring 28 points in the January win and 27 at home at Amway arena.
But Nelson underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder and has missed the entire playoffs so far. He is practising this week but it is not known whether he will be healthy enough to play.
"It is a tough decision on Jameer either way because I think he is able to play right now," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Wednesday. "How much he can do, I don’t know.
"I don’t really think our guys need an emotional boost. Is is not going to be like a Willis Reed moment or anything. We will just decide after today if we think playing him give us a better chance to win than not playing him."