The Boston Celtics mounted a big-time second-half comeback to take down the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night, 107-98. And while Boston did well to fight back, that was, unfortunately, not the main storyline from the evening.
Just a few minutes into the first quarter, Celtics star Jaylen Brown rolled his ankle on a drive to the hoop. He would limp off the court under his own power, but was unable to return to the game due to a sprained ankle.
After the contest, head coach Ime Udoka addressed the injury.
“Rolled it. It’s got some swelling and soreness, obviously. He tried to give it a go in the back and wanted to come back out and play, but we just thought big picture, and where we’re at in the season, and be smart. We’ll know more over the next few days, but he tried to give it a go and it’s still sore and swollen.”
Despite Brown’s eagerness to get back in the game, Boston decided to err on the side of caution. Brown has dealt with ankle sprains many times before in his career, so keeping him as healthy as possible down the stretch will be crucial.
As far as a timetable for return, no definitive answer was given. However, when asked if this would be a long-term issue, Udoka was fairly optimistic.
“Yeah, you would hope not. He walked off by himself and then tried to go in the back, so you would hope not. But we’ll evaluate him over the next few days. It doesn’t seem like it, but you never know how it could change overnight with swelling and pain.”
The injury looked a lot worse than a sprained ankle during the game. Brown drove to the rim and his entire leg kicked out to the side in one swift motion. TD Garden fell silent as Brown could be heard writhing in pain.
Marcus Smart mentioned that he thought it could have been worse than a sprained ankle. From his perspective, he thought Brown injured his knee, but luckily, it’s not as serious as he initially believed.
“It was tough at first. I saw it from the start to finish, and it didn’t look good. I thought it was his knee. With no contact, you know, that’s always scary. But as I went to go check on him, he was like, ‘it’s my ankle, my ankle’s hurt.’... We’re just glad it was nothing more serious than that. But it’s definitely a scary feeling.”
Grant Williams also touched on the general mood of the team when the injury occurred. And more importantly, he stated the importance of supporting Brown from here on out.
“I feel like all of us were just hoping the best for our teammate, our brother. It was a scary moment. You see me on the bench and I like covered my eyes and went into Coach Ben’s arms. We never want to see that happen. Luckily, he’s okay… So, the biggest thing is just trying to lift him up and lift the team up after that happened.”
Immediately after Brown went down, the Celtics began to falter, going down by as much as 17 points. Despite Brown’s absence, they managed to pull it all the way back in the second half. Marcus Smart spoke about the team’s ability to rally after one of their top guys went down.
“We just really told each other, ‘we got a player down with JB. The next guy has to step up. And we just got to continue to play and trust each other shots weren’t falling, they’re gonna fall, but we got to turn off on the defensive end for ourselves.’”
Boston will be back in action on Thursday night when they welcome the Memphis Grizzlies to TD Garden. The contest is set to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on TNT.