Boozer Committed for First Round, Wavering on World Championships
DENVER -- Utah forward Carlos Boozer is committed to play in a West first-round series against Denver despite a strained abdominal muscle.
He's less committed to play for Team USA this summer in the World Championships in Turkey despite saying last fall he'll "do it in a heartbeat.'' Boozer said he won't make a decision on Team USA until this summer.
But first things first. Boozer said after Saturday morning's shootaround at the Pepsi Center he's ready to go for the evening's Game 1 against Denver. Boozer sat out Wednesday's 100-86 loss to Phoenix in the regular-season finale, a game that cost the Jazz homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs, after suffering what is technically called a strained right oblique muscle Tuesday at Golden State.
"I'm definitely playing,'' Boozer said of Game 1. "I feel good and I'm looking forward to the game.''
Boozer does not feel he will be limited.
"I'm not,'' he said. "I think that I'll be OK. I got some padding on it. I got some heat stuff on it to keep it warm. For the most part I'm not going to think about it and go out there and play the game.''
Speaking to FanHouse later, Boozer did not sound fully committed to playing for Team USA this summer in Turkey despite having been very gung-ho about it last fall, and then being named in February to USA Basketball's 27-man roster, which has since grown to 32.
"I'm going to make that decision this summer,'' Boozer, who won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics and gold at the 2008 Olympics, said about the World Championships. "I'll see how the playoffs go and go from there this summer.''
Boozer, who joins LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade as another 2008 Olympic holdover to be wavering for the World games, talked last October with FanHouse about how much he wanted to play in Turkey.
"I definitely would love to play if I get invited,'' Boozer, due to be a free agent this summer, said at the time. "Not at all (would Boozer's contract situation affect his decision to play). If I've got a chance to put USA on my chest again, I'll do it in a heartbeat. The contract stuff will take care of itself ... If I've got the chance, I would love to do it again ... Obviously, we'd love to win the gold medal. I'd love to go out there (to Turkey).''
Boozer said Saturday his recent injury would not affect his decision on whether to play in the World Championships.
The injury came at a very bad time for the Jazz. Utah was able to beat the Warriors 103-94, but the loss to the Suns kept it from being the No. 3 seed in the West and facing a No. 6 Portland team without injured star Brandon Roy. Instead, the Jazz dropped to No. 5, and don't have homecourt advantage against No. 4 Denver.
"It was frustrating,'' Boozer said. "I wanted to be out there with the guys. But I would have hurt them more than I would have helped them (had Boozer played against the Suns).''
It got worse for the Jazz after that when forward Andrei Kirilenko re-injured his strained left calf in a Thursday workout. He's out at least two weeks, almost keeping him out of the entire Denver series.
"You can't do anything about that,'' said Utah coach Jerry Sloan, who will start Kirilenko's replacement at small forward, C.J. Miles, on Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony. "You monitor (players) and hope they don't get hurt.'''
Now, Sloan is hoping Boozer can be as effective in the playoffs as he was in the regular season, when he averaged team highs of 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds.
"If you put your uniform on, you're 100 percent,'' Sloan said when asked if Boozer is 100 percent. "If you're going to put your uniform on, why play at 80? Somebody else could play.''
Boozer rebounded well in four regular-season games against the Nuggets, exceeding his season average by pulling down an average of 11.8. But he scored less, averaging 16.8 points.
"Make it tough on him, not let him do the things that he's comfortable doing,'' Boozer's counterpart at power forward, Kenyon Martin, said about trying to slow down Boozer. "Just put a crowd around him and make him guard somebody on the other end. Bottom line.''
The confident Nuggets obviously would like to send the Jazz home soon for the summer. Then Boozer could start thinking about how committed he really is for the World Championships.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson