BOSTON – To come back and beat Miami 98-88 after having been down by as many as 26 points is the kind of victory that’s good for the mental health of the Boston Celtics.
But physically-speaking, the Green Team will enter the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday with two key players – Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder - dealing with more than your usual late-season bumps and bruises.
Thomas has been dealing with a left (shooting) wrist injury all season, but it hasn’t been much of an issue until the last couple of weeks when the pain has been re-aggravated by multiple hard falls to the floor.
Crowder missed eight consecutive games with a high right ankle sprain which is still giving him some discomfort.
Both players refuse to let their health issues become an issue in this series.
“It’s hurting but I’ve just got to figure it out,” Thomas said. “Continue to get treatment, figure out what we’ll do with the next couple days and there’s no excuses.”
Said Crowder: “I think I’m as good as I’m going to be. I’m able to play with it. I know what I can and can’t do at this point. Moving forward, I think it’s getting better for sure. I’m going to keep doing stuff the training staff is telling me to do. I’m going to take these next few days and really get it prepared for a series in the playoffs.”
Thomas’ injury won’t prevent him from playing, but the last few games have shown noticeable slippage on his part and it’s not solely because teams are defending him better or differently.
In Boston’s last three games, Thomas has averaged just 18 points (more than four points below his season average) while shooting 34.0 percent (16-for-47) from the field while averaging nearly as many assists (5.3) as turnovers (3.7) per game.
As for Crowder, he has played in seven games since returning to the lineup following his ankle injury.
He averages 14.4 points per game this season, but has only strung together back-to-back double digit scoring games once. And those performances came against New Orleans and the Los Angeles Lakers, two of the NBA’s worst teams this season.
He’ll be the first to tell you that the timing of his injury in the grand scheme of things, could not be any worse.
“It sucks right now, especially where we’re at in the season,” Crowder said earlier this week. “What we’re trying to accomplish here. But it’s a part of it. I’m doing what I gotta do, my teammates are behind me. I’ll be prepared to play each and every day.”