Despite a beatdown victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, the Boston Celtics still hover around the possibility of finding themselves in the NBA’s play-in tournament. Currently sitting in sixth place in the East — neck-and-neck with the Miami Heat — the C’s have just six games to separate themselves from the pack, two of which are against Miami.
Thankfully, it appears Boston will be receiving some highly crucial reinforcement to their lineup in their first bout with the Heat come Sunday afternoon.
The latest Celtics news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Celtics newsletter here!
Danny Ainge Pins Return Date for Jaylen Brown
All-Star wing Jaylen Brown, who suffered a sprained ankle in a recent loss to the Portland Trail Blazers this past Sunday, is trending towards a return to the court this weekend. Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Thursday for his weekly interview, in which the Celtics’ president of basketball operations detailed the latest status of his injured star player.
“It’s looking like that he’ll probably be returning on Sunday,” Ainge said of Brown.
Brown didn’t make the trip to Central Florida for Wednesday’s victory over the Magic, as he continues to nurse his ankle sprain. Head coach Brad Stevens had shared optimism that Brown could theoretically return to action for Friday’s game against the Chicago Bulls (via MassLive). Yet, it appears that Sunday will serve as the benchmark for Brown’s return to action.
The Cal product has enjoyed a career campaign in 2020-21. Through 58 games, the 24-year-old Brown has notched personal bests across the board offensively, averaging 24.7 ppg on 48.4% shooting from the field, while knocking down 39.7% of his 3-point attempts and chipping in with 3.4 assists per contest.
Ainge Talks Play-In Tournament
“Whoever came up with that s*** needs to be fired.” That was LeBron James’ take on the NBA’s impending play-in tournament following a Lakers loss to the Toronto Raptors this past Sunday. The King isn’t alone in his critique of the tournament. Mavericks star Luka Doncic and owner Mark Cuban are some of the more notable names to also share in James’ disdain for the new play-in scenario.
While speaking with Toucher & Rich, Ainge was far less condemning of the new NBA model than James. Yet, he still voiced his preference for the league’s original setup of determining playoff teams.
“I think that there are some good things about the play-in tournament,” Ainge noted. “I prefer the older way, but this is just what we are dealt with and we have to make the most of it.”
Of course, those who have all been most vocal of their disapproval of the play-in tournament tend to have one thing in common — are all part of franchises that could very plausibly find themselves in said tournament come May 18th. With all that said, analyst J.A. Adande believes that if the tournament ultimately costs some of the league’s more prominent teams, ie: the Lakers and Celtics, a spot in the playoffs there will likely be repercussions.
“If the play-in ends up costing the NBA the Lakers and Celtics for the playoffs you’ve gotta figure there will be consequences,” Adande tweeted. “Maybe not lost jobs, but that format would change.”