For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Boston Celtics will bring not one but two 2021 All-Stars into battle when they square off with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
As relayed by NESN, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka indicated on Sunday that Jaylen Brown will be available to play against the Bucks. He further noted that Brown would be on a meager pitch count of about 30 minutes for the night.
Brown hasn’t appeared in a game for Boston since a December 1 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. He had returned to the court in late November after missing eight games due to a hamstring injury. However, it became clear in short order that he wasn’t quite right, so the Cs eventually held him out for another five games.
Although he was been limited to 13 appearances on the campaign, Brown has arguably been Boston’s best player in 2021-22. To date, he’s averaging 21.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per contest with shooting splits of 46-37-76. His 5.9 net rating is the best mark team-wide among major minute-getters.
Brown Says He’s Feeling Like Himself Again
After Sunday’s practice, Brown was asked about his strange season, which began with him testing positive for COVID-19 in October and has been a stop-and-start affair ever since. As he sees it, his latest return comes just as his body is finally rounding back into shape.
“I’m feeling good,” Brown said. “I’m feeling like myself, like how I started the season and how I was starting to feel coming back from COVID, getting my legs back up under me.”
While the Celtics have scuffled to a 13-14 record with him bouncing in and out of the lineup, the time apart has been hard for Brown, too.
“Obviously, it’s been difficult to watch, especially wanting to be out there seeing how our team’s been fighting for the most part,” he said. “It’s been hard to watch, but coming back I’m looking to just add to winning, trying to get everybody on the same page, bring energy and make winning basketball plays.”
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Brown Wasn’t Ready to Play During His First Return
Although both the player and the team were anxious to see Brown get back on the floor last month, his comeback didn’t quite yield the results they were looking for. Over a five-game stretch, he averaged just 14.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest and generally looked a step slow on the floor.
On Sunday, Brown confessed that they probably jumped the gun in bringing him back. However, he now believes that they’ve finally stamped out his hamstring issues.
“I think I came back maybe a little too early before because I was not myself,” Brown said. “And hamstring’s are a little bit tricky so we were just taking time to figure it out. The organization and the medical staff had good communication and we figured it out.”