Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Jae Crowder, out the past eight games with a high right ankle sprain, will make his return to the Celtics lineup tonight against Portland.
“He’s been a really solid 3, a really solid 4, whatever we’ve asked him to do,” said Stevens who added that the 6-foot-6 Crowder would start. “It allows us a little more flexibility in the lineups we can play.”
The Celtics have suffered on several fronts since Crowder’s injury on March 11 against Houston, with the team's points, shooting percentage as well as key analytical categories such as offensive rating and defensive rating, all worsening in his absence.
Earlier today, Crowder said an appearance on his part tonight would likely mean he would not play on Friday at Golden State. When addressing reporters this morning, having Crowder avoid returning to the lineup to play back-to-back games “made sense” according to Stevens.
But prior to tonight’s game, Stevens was non-committal on whether Crowder would in fact sit out tomorrow night’s game against the Warriors.
“I’ll talk to Ed (Lacerte, the team’s head athletic trainer) and Jae about that after the game,” Stevens said. “We haven’t talked about it since I talked to you guys this morning about it.”
Even though he will return to action, Crowder readily admits that he won’t quite be himself immediately.
On Wednesday, Crowder had his first full practice with the team and admitted there was some soreness afterwards.
But that’s not what concerns him about his effectiveness tonight.
“On certain plays I was a step behind,” Crowder 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 getting my timing back. I’ll be fine.”