Jaylen Brown, one of only two Celtics to play every game this season along with Daniel Theis, finally had to miss Friday’s game against the Clippers because of a lingering left knee issue.
Brown was clearly bothered by the injury during Wednesday’s loss in Sacramento, according to Brad Stevens.
“You saw the layup in front of our bench where he laid it in off one leg. I told him he looked like me on that one,” said the Celtics coach. “He was sore than night, yesterday still sore, this morning still. So he’ll be more of a day-to-day. He’s dealing with the intensity of all the games that have come before that he hasn’t missed any of. So hopefully it’s not something long term. We’re certainly on top of it. But it wasn’t one moment that I know (that caused the injury).”
Stevens already has one player (Kemba Walker) taking part in load management because of a balky knee. Though Walker played against the Clippers, along with the return of Payton Pritchard from a sprained knee, Marcus Smart continues to miss time due to a Grade 1 tear of his left calf.
Brown could be a candidate for load management, too, if the problem persists. Stevens said that his young star has not had tests taken of the knee, nor are any scheduled.
“It sounds like Jaylen’s was just over the course of the first couple of weeks here, just some general soreness of that knee,” said Stevens. “He really felt it more than he probably had been in the Sacramento game.
“I think it’s more day-to-day than that,” he said of the possibility of load management for Brown. “But certainly if we think it will be something where you play him and he has to sit, play him and he has to sit, it would be something we’d have to look at. Do we have to sit him for an extended period of time so that we don’t have to play the back-and-forth game with him?”
Walker returned to action Friday night against the Clippers after sitting out Wednesday’s loss to the Kings for load management purposes, coming as it did on the second night of a back-to-back swing.
And from what the Celtics guard can tell, that back-to-back policy won’t change in the foreseeable future. The goal, after all, is to have Walker fully functional for the playoffs.
“As far as back-to-backs, as of right now, yeah, probably won’t be playing,” he said. “But as far as down the line, with end of games, every game is different. In the moment, we need to figure out what’s working best for us at the time, and stick to it and just be more poised down the stretch.”
Said policy will stand regardless of the injuries currently impacting the lineup, most recently with Brown’s absence against the Clippers.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys, and guys who have been hurt, like myself obviously, I’m just getting myself back with the team,” he said. “Smart goes down and we’re going to get him back. Guys are going in and out, so it happens throughout the course of the season. We just have to figure it out, and we will, we have a bunch of guys with great character who want to do well, want to succeed, want to win, and that’s what really matters.”
Walker’s own recovery from left knee trouble appears to be benefitting from load management. The veteran guard can feel it when he launches for one of those signature pull-ups.
“I think it’s more mental than anything. Before, that was one of the main things that was kind of bothering me,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been really good at throughout the course of my career was being able to stop on a dime and stuff like that. So that’s what’s been bothering me before I came back during my injury and when I really wasn’t feeling good at all. That was one of the toughest parts. But I think it’s more mental right now than anything. But you know what? I think I’m getting there. I think I’m getting there. I’m starting to feel a lot better as these days go by. The more I play, it’s definitely starting to feel a little bit better. So I think I’m definitely trending upwards at this point.”
Since LeBron James spoke out against the prospect of holding an all-star game in the midst of a pandemic — the NBA and players association are on the verge of agreeing to hold a one-day event in Atlanta — a number of players including Portland’s Carmelo Anthony have publicly agreed with the Lakers’ star.
You can also add another past all-star, Walker, to the list.
“We all seen what Bron said,” said Walker. “Yeah, I agree. He’s a smart man. He’s been around. And he’s a leader. A lot of things he says is correct. He feels the way he feels, and I’m probably going to be on vacation.”