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Cavaliers teammate questions Jarrett Allen for not playing through rib injury in 2024 NBA playoffs

Shortly after the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs, The Athletic reported that some of his teammates were frustrated that center Jarrett Allen didn’t play after injuring his rib in Game 4 of the first round. Allen reportedly refused an injection to numb the pain.

On Friday, one member of the organization — forward Marcus Morris — advanced the idea that Allen could have played, while another — president Koby Altman — said that he couldn’t even lift his arms, let alone play in an NBA playoff game.

“I can’t speak on how bad it was for Jarrett,” Morris said in an appearance on “Run it Back” on FanDuel TV. “If you put me in that same position, do I play? Yes. But, you know, I can’t say how his body felt. Orlando was a very physical, physical-ass series, so I wasn’t surprised he didn’t come back in that one. A little bit surprised about the Boston one, but not too much about Orlando because they were some physical young cats and, [if] he got hit one more time, it could have been different. I think Boston is not as physical, more just talent and skillful guys.”

Morris said that Allen had the option to play. Altman, during his end-of-season press conference, said that there was no choice: He had a pierced rib, and he physically could not have played.

“I’ve had several people reach out to me about how much it hurts,” Altman told reporters. “You can’t drive to work, you can’t sleep, you can’t tie your sneakers. To give you some insight to what Jarrett did, I mean, Jarrett tried to give it a go: I mean, to the last day and a half [of the season], he was trying to go up and down on this floor and do some real basketball moves. It’s hard to play basketball if you can’t raise your arms over your head. I know there was speculation of more stuff he could’ve done — it’s impossible to play through what he was going through.”

Altman pointed out that, in between the bone bruise that sidelined him at the beginning of the season and the pierced rib that sidelined him at the end of it, Allen played in 81 consecutive games. Allen was “the most important player we had all year in terms of games played and his value,” Altman said.

Looking for more NBA coverage? CBS Sports’ Beyond the Arc podcast takes a look at the league’s biggest storylines from the 2024 playoffs to the upcoming draft to free agency.

Throughout his press conference, Altman emphasized that, while the Cavaliers will have a new coach next season, he does not feel that they need to make “sweeping changes” to the roster, despite reporting and rumors suggesting that they could split up their guards (Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland) and/or their big men (Allen and Evan Mobley). Beyond Morris, no one has gone on the record saying that Allen could or should have played against Boston, but it’s fair to wonder how Allen would feel about returning to play with anybody who felt that way. If I were him, I wouldn’t be psyched about it.

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