Bond Is Strong Between Jamal Crawford, Brandon Roy
ATLANTA -- If Portland runs out of playoff games before Brandon Roy can return from his knee injury, all might not be lost for him this postseason.
Roy might hop on a plane and go watch his buddy, guard Jamal Crawford, in the playoffs for Atlanta.
Crawford said he and the Trail Blazers guard, both from Seattle, are "best friends'' and like brothers. Last spring it was Crawford who flew to Portland to see Roy appear in his playoff game against Houston.
The two talk on the phone every day. When Roy suffered a torn right meniscus early in the April 11 game at the Los Angeles Lakers that led to surgery last Thursday, Crawford was there for him.
"I was talking with him when he was in the locker room in the back right when it first happened,'' Crawford said before his Hawks defeated Milwaukee 96-86 Tuesday night at Philips Arena to take a 2-0 lead in an East first-round series. "He was really down about it.''
But Roy's spirits are on the mend. Crawford said Roy is feeling even better about being able to return during these playoffs after the Trail Blazers, seeded No. 6 in the West, surprisingly won 100-94 Sunday at No. 3 Phoenix in Game 1 of their first-round series.
"He's excited that they were able close out a game in Phoenix,'' Crawford said of updates from Roy during Monday and Tuesday calls. "He feels like, with the right time and right rehab, he might be able to get back this playoffs. So the better [the Trail Blazers] do, the better for him that they stretch it out.
"He just gives me updates [every day]. Like '[Monday], I started riding the bike.' Just little things like that. I just try to keep his spirits up. ... I think there would be a decent chance (of Roy returning at least for a possible second-round series)''
Portland general manger Kevin Pritchard told the Oregonian that with Roy, who shot free throws Monday and moved around on his knee, the Trail Blazers "are going to leave the option open'' of Roy returning later in the Phoenix series.
Obviously, how long the series goes will be a factor. If the Trail Blazers don't move on and the Hawks advance, Roy at least can go watch Crawford play.
"He's going to come watch for sure,'' Crawford, who has known the Portland star since he was 17 and Roy was 14 and the two first began playing ball together in Seattle, said of that possible scenario.
Before, it was Crawford who always had plenty of free time during the postseason. Prior to Saturday's 102-92 in Game 1, Crawford had played in more regular season games (676) than any active player who hadn't gotten into a playoff game. This dubious distinction now belongs to Indiana's Troy Murphy, who has played 621 regular-season games and zero postseason affairs.
"He called me right after the game and said I didn't look nervous,'' Crawford, 30, said of the call after the Atlanta guard had 17 points on 4-of-11 shooting in Game 1.
The two might be best friends, but it sounds as if Roy might have needed a closer look.
"You could tell he was a little nervous,'' Hawks forward Josh Smith said of Crawford's first playoff game, a contention not denied by Crawford. "He was getting his feet wet. But all he needed was to get that first game out of the way to be successful.''
Well, maybe it will take two games. Crawford shot just 2-of-10 for five points in Game 2.
Crawford sure didn't look nervous during the regular season. He averaged 18.0 points, and is shoo-in for the NBA Sixth Man Award. Crawford is expected to officially get the trophy either later in this series when the Hawks are at home or at home in the next series if Atlanta makes quick work of Milwaukee.
After it becomes official, you better believe Crawford will hear from his buddy.
"That Seattle connection is real close to each other,'' Smith said. "[Crawford has] a lot of friends [from Seattle]. There's [also NBA players] Nate Robinson, Jason Terry.''
Roy and Crawford are indeed close. But Roy is hoping he's lacing up high tops in the second round of the playoffs rather than flying across the country to watch Crawford.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson