Iverson set to play in Game 4


Allen Iverson said he will definitely play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. “I don’t feel that much better, but as long as I can run up and down the court I’ll be all right,” Iverson said Sunday. The Philadelphia 76ers trail the Milwaukee Bucks 2-1 in the best-of-seven series after losing 80-74 Saturday, as Iverson sat out to rest his sore left hip. Iverson shot jumpers with his teammates Sunday but did not do any running. Like other members of the team, Iverson had an upbeat attitude that would ordinarily be ill-suited for a team facing the closest thing to a must win. The 76ers seemed to draw some inspiration from their six-point loss, emerging with a heightened sense of pride for playing such a close game despite the NBA’s Most Valuable Player staying behind at the team hotel and watching the game on TV. “I was so happy with their effort, I couldn’t wait for them to get back to the hotel so I could tell them. I almost jumped in a ab,” Iverson said. By the time Game 4 tips off at 2130 GMT Monday, Iverson will have had about 90 hours worth of recuperation. His injury is officially listed as a left sacroiliac contusion. The sacroiliac joint connects the hip to the buttocks. The injury makes it difficult for Iverson to run — a huge detriment to a player who relies so heavily on speed. “It’s the kind of injury that gets better with rest, and he has unbelievable healing powers and an unbelievable pain threshold, so we’ll see,” coach Larry Brown said. “If this kid can play, whatever he can give us we’ll be happy with.”” Injuries have hampered both teams since the middle of the second round, and 76ers forward Tyrone Hill is playing despite a family emergency. His father, Eddie, 66, is in a Cincinnati hospital after having two strokes in the past two weeks that were caused by diabetes. Reserve forward Matt Geiger said he was 95 percent certain he would be unable to play Monday because of quadriceps tendinitis. Brown said he was surprised Saturday when Geiger changed into street clothes and sat out the game. “He shaved his head, he had therapy, a rubdown and an adjustment. The only thing he didn’t have was a pedicure, so I don’t know. I have no idea with Matt,” Brown said. The 76ers shot just 36 percent from the field and missed 11 free throws in Game 3 yet managed to keep the game close by controlling the tempo and playing intense defense. Aaron McKie had four steals and helped hold Ray Allen to 20 points on 6-for-18 shooting, and Jumaine Jones had 16 points, eight rebounds and three 3 pointers. The player who made the biggest difference was Bucks point guard Sam Cassell, who scored 24 points and shot 9-for-16 in dominating his matchup with Eric Snow. Bucks coach George Karl put his own spin on Game 3, dismissing talk that it was an ugly affair while arguing that Milwaukee had proved it could beat the Sixers in different ways — with the high-octane offense they prefer or the slow-paced style the 76ers like. “I think they put their eggs on going after one win. Last night they went out and said let’s see if we can outhustle them and outwork them,” Karl said. “And they did a good job with it. And guess what? We did a good job with it, too. And tomorrow they come in with their big guns.” Karl told his team to expect the same defensive intensity from Philadelphia in Game 4 with Iverson providing the offensive firepower that was missing in Game 3. “It’s an urgent game. If we’re not ready for basically a seventh-game mentality from them, I think we’ll be in trouble,” Karl said. “They’re going to give us everything tomorrow. They’re going to try to take it back to Philadelphia even.” History has not been kind to teams that fall behind 3-1 in a best-of seven series. Only six teams in NBA history have come back from such a deficit, the last being the Miami Heat in 1997 against the New York Knicks. Game 5 will be played Wednesday night in Philadelphia, and Game 6, if necessary, would be Friday night in Milwaukee. “The pendulum swings tomorrow to the team that wins, and I hope that’s us,” Karl said.