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.