Improved health of Jae Crowder an encouraging sign for Celtics

Improved health of Jae Crowder an encouraging sign for Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – There were very few positives the Boston Celtics could take away from Friday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

But the improved health of Jae Crowder was certainly one of them.

The 6-foot-6 Crowder, limited due to a left ankle sprain suffered earlier this month, had his best game since returning to the lineup from the injury four games ago.

Against the Spurs he had 18 points which included four 3-pointers along with a season-high five assists.

And while the plan since his return was to limit him to 20-25 minutes played per game, against San Antonio he logged just under 28 minutes and there’s a good chance he’ll log even more time on Monday when the Celtics take on the Miami Heat.

“I think the minutes restriction is about up,” said Boston head coach Brad Stevens.

And that bodes well for the Celtics (9-8) as they try to continue playing well, having won six of their last nine games and their last three road games.

Crowder is pleased with the progress his ankle has made in the healing process, and is cautiously optimistic his health will continue trending in the right direction.

“If I have one more game like I did in Minnesota where I couldn’t go back into the game, it’ll cause me to sit a few,” Crowder said following Friday’s loss. “But if I keep gradually progressing like I am now these past few games, I’ll be fine.”

And so will Stevens who acknowledged how difficult it can be to manage Crowder’s minutes knowing that they are limited.

“It’s a hard balance,” said Stevens who has considered several options on how to get the most out of Crowder including not starting him in the second half of games.

But as important as having a relatively healthy Crowder can be to Boston’s chances at success, Stevens understands there’s a bigger issue of concern and that’s simply playing better basketball as a team.

“We have to make sure we continue to play well with whoever is on the floor,” Stevens said.

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Reserve-heavy Celtics keep at it, top Trail Blazers

1:13 - The Celtics came away with a 105-100 win in Portland on Friday night. Find out why Chris Mannix is calling this the best Celtics win of the season.

6:05 - Mannix discusses details about Kyrie Irving’s ‘minimally invasive’ procedure on his knee and what his level of concern is with A. Sherrod Blakely and Gary Tanguay.

10:03 - Michael Holley and Tom Curran discuss what NFL players, including Devin McCourty, are doing beyond the gridiron by being active in criminal justice reform discussions held at Harvard this week.



Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

Morris getting it done for Celtics on both ends of the floor

When you think about Marcus Morris these days, big-time scoring immediately comes to mind. 

But in Boston’s 105-100 comeback win over Portland, Morris’ contributions went beyond the game-high 30 points he dropped on the Blazers.

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“Coach (Brad Stevens) is doing a great job of getting me the ball in my spots and my teammates are finding me,” Morris told reporters after the win. “And I’m just coming through.”

He’s providing strong play and a tremendous presence at both ends of the floor which has been critical to the team navigating some choppy waters with a number of regular rotation players – namely Kyrie Irving – out with injuries.

“One thing is, he’s healthy,” said Boston’s Al Horford, referring to the sore knee that limited Morris earlier this season and at times forced him to miss games. “And the other is, he’s just more confident, he’s playing very assertive. He’s playing great right now, in a really good rhythm.”

Said Stevens: “That’s been him (Morris). As he’s continued to feel better; I think physically he’s felt as good as he’s felt. He’s comfortable in our system and we need him to score. If you’re a basketball player and your job is to score, that’s a pretty good job.”

And it’s one that even with all the injuries Boston has played through, few envisioned him being such an integral part of the offense. 

Morris’ calling card prior to arriving in Boston was his defense. 

But Morris has made it known that his focus on the floor is to be as complete a player as possible.

“I’m not trying to just limit myself to just being that scorer,” Morris said. “Also, on the defensive end I think I’m bringing it; my defense has gotten a lot better, especially my on-the-ball defense. I’m trying to be that all-around player and not just an offensive player … but I can score.”