Magic players say that Nelson will play

GM Otis Smith and Jameer Nelson have tempered their optimism publicly, but the Orlando Magic players seem to think that Nelson will play in the Finals.

Nelson participated in a full team practice Tuesday for the first time since tearing the labrum in his right shoulder Feb. 2. While Nelson and coach Stan Van Gundy still said the point guard’s status won’t be determined until game day, players said Nelson looked “terrific” and expect him to be on the court against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“It’s still no in my mind,” Smith said. “There’s a very smidgen of a chance he can play.”

That “smidgen” seems to be growing.

Nelson has been playing full-court games and practicing in non-contact drills for the last two weeks. Tuesday, he participated in every drill.

Players said Nelson wasn’t in his All-Star form, but even not completely healthy, he was better than most NBA point guards.

If Nelson can come back at 85-90%, it would be a big boost for the Magic. Rafer Alston has been great at times, but he had some brutal games shooting the ball against the Cavs. He went 1 for 7 in Game 2 and 1 for 10 in Game 5, which were both losses for the Magic. In Orlando’s four wins, he averaged 17.0 points and shot 25 of 56 (45%) from the field.

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