After a stress reaction in his right leg forced the point guard to miss 42 games last season, Holiday, who missed 48 games two seasons go with a stress fracture in the same leg, was put on a strict minutes limit to start the season. The restriction also kept him out of one end of back-to-back games until the end of December.
Holiday has shined since, with averages of 18.3 points and 7.1 assists per game after the new year while coming off the bench, a role he said he prefers because of the rhythm he can find in longer stretches without being subbed out. But the seventh-year guard admitted on Saturday that he still worries about possible setbacks.
“All the time,” Holiday said. “Obviously, anything can happen. One bad move or something like that, I’ll be right back where I started. I guess I think about it after the fact, when I’m not out on the court. I have to go out there and give it my all and stuff. If it happens, it happens.”
Holiday, 25, is still doing what he can to avoid re-injury, including sitting out of Saturday’s practice. He said he only scouted Sunday’s opponent, the Detroit Pistons, ran over some plays and got routine treatment from the training staff.
But Holiday says he’s able to forget about it when he’s on the court.
“I haven’t been feeling it on the court, and that’s been awesome,” he said. “When I go out there and play, I give it my all.”
Traded to New Orleans from the Philadelphia 76ers on draft night 2013 for two first-round picks (Nerlens Noel and, ultimately, Elfrid Payton, who was immediately traded to Orlando), Holiday has performed well when healthy. He has averaged 17.6 points, 7.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds a game with an 18.8 player efficiency rating (PER) in his three seasons in New Orleans -- all better than his four-year stint in Philadelphia (albeit in 176 fewer games).
He currently is second the NBA in scoring among players with fewer than 15 starts (15.2 PPG), behind Pelicans pal Ryan Anderson, and has a career-high PER of 20.30. He also ranks 14th among NBA point guards in ESPN’s real plus-minus (1.33).
“We’ve got to remember he was an All-Star guard before he got here,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry. “And so with him, like I said, all the skills are there. Good 3-point shooter, gets the ball wherever he wants it, good passer. He just has a couple of plays where he loses concentration. That’s the only thing that separates him from [the elite] guys.”