BOSTON – Jae Crowder is in a much better place now both physically and emotionally, after suffering yet another ankle sprain injury.
But unlike the one he suffered last spring, Crowder said he isn’t going to push himself to come back ahead of schedule.
“As of now, we’re still looking at a week or two (for a return),” he said. “I don’t have a set date. I haven’t talked to Ed (Lacerte, the team’s head trainer) about a set date but I’m not going to rush it. I want to be out there so bad, but I want to get my health to as close to 100 percent as possible.”
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That wasn’t necessarily the plan last spring after he suffered a high ankle sprain and a bone bruise that forced him to miss nine games. But even when he returned, it was clear that he wasn’t the same player.
“I’m moving at a good pace right now,” Crowder said. “Working eight hours a day on this thing. I’m doing what I have to do to get back on the court as soon as possible. I’m not going to rush it like I did last year due to the end of the season, playoffs, trying to get a rhythm. I’m just going to do what I have to do and take care of my business.”
Since then, Crowder has made a few changes in terms of precautionary measures to help ensure or lessen the likelihood of an ankle injury.
“I switched shoes from last year,” Crowder said. “I wore low-tops. I don’t wear low-tops anymore. I think that helped a lot. I tape pretty heavily.”
As for the most recent incident that led to him spraining his ankle, “It’s unfortunate. I came down on his (Rajon Rondo) foot; freak accident.”
But if there’s one positive he can take away from his current ankle injury, it’s the timing of it.
“I would rather it happen now than the time it happened last year,” Crowder said. “But I know exactly what happened, when it happened; I rolled it. I knew I was out.
Crowder added, “Frustrated but I’m encouraged, I’m in good spirits now. So that’s where we’re at.”
Without Crowder, the Celtics have had to play without their most versatile frontcourt defender who is a key figure in their small-ball lineups with his ability to play the power forward position.
His absence is among the many reasons why the Celtics defense, a year ago among the best in the NBA, is now ranked among the league’s worst.
Even when Crowder returns, that’s not going to necessarily fix what ails this Celtics defense.
“Obviously we’ve got some guys that aren’t playing that will play,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “But this is about physically holding your ground."
Crowder has appeared in four games (all starts) this season, averaging 13.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.25 steals per game while shooting a career-best 55.6 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from 3-point range which is also a career-high.