SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — If the decision about whether De’Aaron Fox can play through a broken index finger on his shooting hand is up to Fox, there is no doubt.
“Right now, there’s no ifs, ands or buts,” he said Tuesday. “I’m playing.”
While the Sacramento Kings are still listing Fox as questionable for Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, all signs are pointing to the star point guard giving it a shot with the first-round series tied at two games apiece.
Fox took part in a non-contact practice with a splint on his left index finger and then spent significant time afterward working on his shooting to get prepared for playing with a splint in a real game.
Fox said he had no problems dribbling and passing and the biggest question was making sure he could deal with the pain and make his shot.
He said he felt optimistic after the swelling in the finger went down in the past day and the pain has become manageable.
“At the end of the day, I’m fine,” he said. “I can shoot the ball. At this point in the season, everybody has something. Obviously a bone might not be chipped, but something is hurting on everybody. So you go out there and you still play the game. I’m not worried about it.”
Coach Mike Brown said the final decision about Wednesday night will be a joint one between him, Fox, the trainers and medical staff.
But Brown said it wasn’t premature for Fox to say he “believes” he will play.
“He’s not saying I’m going and I’m going to play 40 minutes,” Brown said. “He’s going try to give it a go. I think that’s what you just go with at the end of the day and you see what happens.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team won’t change its approach to defending Fox and isn’t worried about overconfidence if Fox can’t play.
“If we let our guard down, there’s something seriously wrong with us,” Kerr said. “We’ll be ready to go.”
Fox got injured on a drive midway through the fourth quarter. He remained in the game after the injury and even made a key 3-pointer in the closing minute before Sacramento lost 126-125. Fox passed out of a double team on the final possession and the Kings lost when Harrison Barnes missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Fox has emerged as a star in his first trip to the postseason, averaging 31.5 points, seven assists and six rebounds through six games.
His 38 points in a Game 1 win were tied for the second most for a player in his postseason debut and his 126 points so far are tied for the sixth most for any player in his first four career playoff games.
Fox had 38 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the Game 4 loss.
“Whether Foxy plays or not, we all have to play better,” Brown said. “That’s how I look at it.”
Fox was announced last week as the inaugural winner of the NBA’s clutch player of the year award. He led the league in clutch-game scoring this season with 194 points in 39 such games; clutch games are defined as those where the margin between teams is five points or less at any point in the final five minutes.
Those were the most clutch points scored in a season since LeBron James had 197 in the 2017-18 season.