Jae Crowder set to return to Celtics starting lineup


Jae Crowder set to return to Celtics starting lineup

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.”

Kevin Garnett predicts Marcus Morris' game-winner right before it happens

Kevin Garnett predicts Marcus Morris' game-winner right before it happens

Kevin Garnett was paying close attention to Tuesday night's thriller between the Celtics and Thunder.

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Thunder

On KG's Area 21, the former Celtics great watched as Boston rallied in the game's final minute to make a stunning comeback. Right before Marcus Morris drilled the game-winner, Garnett called it by saying, "The Morris twin will end up shooting this or something because he like 'yeah I'm about the moment'"

Not a bad call. Morris certainly was "about the moment" Tuesday night as he has been multiple times this season.


Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”