76ers guard Allen Iverson will miss tonight's game against the Celtics and will not travel with the team to Boston, after an MRI exam yesterday revealed arthritis in his left knee and a contusion on his left shoulder.
Meanwhile, point guard Lou Williams practiced with the team at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, one day after having wires removed from a broken jaw that has caused him to miss three weeks.
Coach Eddie Jordan said there was a "slight chance" Williams could return tomorrow at home against the Clippers, though he will sit out tonight's game along with Iverson, who may return tomorrow, too.
"My jaw's healed," said Williams, who is wearing braces on his gums to complete his healing for about one more week. "Now it's a matter of me getting in shape, being basketball-ready. . . . I think we just want to do the same thing with Allen. He was a little concerned about his conditioning."
Iverson's MRI exam was conducted by team physician Jack McPhilemy. Iverson was unavailable for comment and did not practice. He is averaging 15.6 points in the five games since he returned to the Sixers against Denver on Dec. 7.
To round out the injury merry-go-round for a Sixers team that has lost 13 of its last 14 games, center Marreese Speights practiced yesterday but left early for treatment after he banged knees with a teammate, Jordan said.
"He was setting a screen. I was overemphasizing setting screens, and someone runs into his knee," Jordan said. "So hopefully, it's OK. It wasn't like a real traumatic sort of hit or fall or twist."
Speights played 22 minutes against Cleveland on Wednesday in his first game back from a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee that he suffered Nov. 14 against Chicago. He was expected to miss six to eight weeks but returned in less than five.
Speights is "probable" against Boston. "We don't think it's serious," Jordan said. "He was going for a precautionary evaluation and we'll see after we get on the plane, before the game. Tomorrow we'll know more."
Iverson's injury will cause Jordan to make more changes to his starting lineup, which Wednesday consisted of Jrue Holiday, Iverson, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, and Samuel Dalembert.
Jordan benched forward Elton Brand for Holiday against a quick Golden State team Monday, but he said he "really liked" Speights and Brand playing together on the low post Wednesday because it gave the Sixers "some beef."
"As much as I like to be quick and fast with a small lineup, it's good to see guys down there banging and scoring in the post and scoring close to the basket," Jordan said. "If we can't get it running, then you've got to do that."
Jordan said Brand could return to the starting lineup, pushing Iguodala to a guard spot. Willie Green is a likely candidate to start because of his size (6-3) against a bigger, seasoned Celtics group. They presumably would join Young and Dalembert as the five to start the game.
"Marreese Speights just came back, and we're going to try to get A.I. healthy," Green said. "So just having everybody together as a team, practicing together, that's something that's just going to build our confidence as a team. It was evident [Wednesday against Cleveland]."
The red-hot Celtics have won 11 in a row and have beaten the Sixers twice this season, 105-74, on Nov. 3 and, 113-110, on Nov. 25, both at the Wachovia Center.
"They're just ripe for the taking," Jordan said with a smirk. "Look, we have sort of something to recall how we were successful against them. We ran our offense pretty well, and [against] a team that's very good defensively - if not No. 1 in the league - so there's a sense of confidence that we can go up there and compete."