BOSTON – All of the tests on Jaylen Brown’s right hamstring injury came back negative, which if you’re lobbying as hard as Brown was to get on the floor, was a huge positive.
Eventually Brown convinced coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics medical staff that he could, in fact, step back on the floor Thursday night and do so without re-aggravating his hamstring injury.
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“I just told them, ‘I was ready to play,’ looked them in their eyes,” Brown said. “They were unsure; it was back and forth.”
Brown’s lobbying efforts worked, and the Celtics needed all the second-year wing player had to offer in escaping with a 108-103 Game 2 win over Philadelphia after trailing the Sixers by 22 points – their largest comeback win in the playoffs in nearly a decade (2008 NBA Finals, Game 4 when they trailed by 24 points).
Brown, who came off the Celtics’ bench for the first time this season, had 13 points and four rebounds in a little less than 25 minutes of action.
From the time Brown suffered the injury in the second quarter of the Game 7 win over Milwaukee, Stevens had consistently said Brown was doubtful for Game 2 although Brown told NBC Sports Boston after Game 1 that he would, in fact, be back for Game 2.
And as players began warming up for the game, there was Brown, going through his usual pregame routine of stretching and shooting on the floor.
“The MRI, or whatever scan he had, showed that there was no, like tear,” Stevens said. “There was no structural damage. It was a strain. It was probably below Grade One but they were – obviously we were going to be very cautious in bringing him back. So they felt good about him playing but it felt like if he went [beyond] 25 [minutes] that would’ve been a little bit more risky.”
Brown figured at some point he would have to test the hamstring to see how it would hold up to a play involving Brown making a series of athletic moves.
In the first quarter, shortly after he entered the game, Philadelphia’s Dario Saric had a ball slip into the backcourt.
Rather than touch it which would have made it Boston’s ball on an over-and-back violation, Saric let roll before a hustling Brown came up with the loose ball, scooped it up for a dunk that was the first of many signs of life for the Celtics in their comeback effort.
“I did everything to kind of, aggravate it,” Brown said. “I bent down, stopped, accelerate, picked up the ball and exploded up court.”
And while Brown acknowledged the hamstring was a little sore afterwards, he doesn’t foresee it keeping him out of any more playoff games.
As much as Brown's return was about him wanting to contribute, it also speaks to the level of trust he has established with the Celtics’ medical staff.
“It was my call,” Brown said. “The doctors didn’t want me to play; I told them I would be fine. The risk was all on me.”
And it paid off big-time for Brown and the Celtics, who are now off to Philly with a 2-0 series lead that they’re looking to expand.
“We took care of business at home and that is the most important thing,” said Boston’s Terry Rozier. “Now we are looking to steal one on the road.”