Jae Crowder’s return to the basketball floor appears to be hours away.
The team is having its morning shoot-around, which is usually a relatively light affair in terms of wear and tear on the body.
Prior to the shoot-around, Crowder talked to reporters about his status heading into tonight’s game against the Trail Blazers in Portland.
“Feeling pretty good; minor soreness,” Crowder said.
If Crowder does return tonight after missing the eight previous games with a high right ankle sprain, don’t get too comfortable seeing him in the starting lineup.
Crowder suiting up tonight likely means he will be held out of Friday night’s game at Golden State.
While no definitive decision has been made, there are clear indications that Crowder will play tonight and sit tomorrow night’s game out.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he planned to talk with Crowder about the best course of action following the team’s shoot-around.
“It makes sense that he wouldn’t play in a back-to-back right now,” Stevens told reporters.
Crowder said he believes that’s the likely direction things will take with his return.
“I don’t know which game,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be up to me. I wouldn’t mind playing tomorrow [against Golden State], or this one. I like this one because it gives me a chance to really get back into the groove of things but with a slower paced game. Tomorrow will be a much faster paced game. That’s the only reason why I would choose this one over tomorrow. We’ll see.”
Stevens was later asked about who would ultimately make that call.
“This is never my decision,” Stevens said. “It’s a medical and player decision.”
He was later asked about if Crowder were healthy enough to play which of the two upcoming games would he be held out.
“If he can go one or the other,” Stevens said, “He’ll play tonight.”
Crowder’s return has been looked upon eagerly by his teammates who have been a .500 team in his absence.
And when you start to look at other key stats such as scoring, defensive rating and shooting percentage, all have taken a noticeable dip since Crowder sustained his injury against Houston on March 11.
“Anytime you get one of your real key contributors back, there’s going to be that case,” Stevens said. “And certainly another guy who makes a lot of effort plays and a guy that makes it easy on everybody because he has positional versatility, swing to the 4 [power forward], swing to the 3 [small forward], it opens up opportunities for everybody. Those guys are helpful no question.”
And while his teammates are happy to have him back, Crowder knows he’s not going to step back on the floor and immediately pick up where he left off prior to the injury.
Crowder saw this first-hand at Wednesday’s practice.
“On certain plays I was a step behind,” he said. “All the guys were telling me I looked like I’m ready to play. But I felt I was a step behind. That’s probably [about] getting my timing back. I’ll be fine.”
Crowder said there were a couple of moves that still gave him some discomfort, like planting and pushing off.
“I don’t have all of my explosiveness off my right foot,” he said. “It’s limited but I still feel I’m able to play.”