For the first time in a while, the Boston Celtics had a clean injury report (outside of Danilo Gallinari), which meant the return of Jaylen Brown to the starting lineup. Brown had been out of the lineup before the All-Star break following a collision with star teammate Jayson Tatum which resulted in a facial fracture for Brown. After getting fitted for a mask, Brown made his triumphant return during the All-Star Game, and led Team LeBron in scoring with 35 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists.
“It’s gonna take some getting used to,” said Brown on wearing a mask. “Some things that I gotta adjust and adapt to, but I will. Today was the first, I would say, real game with it on, and I think it went fine. But it’s gonna definitely take some getting used to and some adjustments, and being able to adapt to it. But, so far so good.”
For what it’s worth, Brown looked great and didn’t seem to miss a beat, scoring 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, three assists and a block. While he still had three turnovers, the star forward didn’t seem to be hesitant with the mask on, and kept up his aggressive play on the offensive end, driving through contact and finish at the rim on multiple occasions.
Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have each scored 30 points in the same game 9 times this season, including tonight's win over the Pacers.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 24, 2023
Over the last 30 years, the only duo to record more such games in a season is Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal (10 in 2000-01, 12 in 2002-03). pic.twitter.com/NIFY7pbXXX
“It’s pretty thick. Sometimes it gets a little hot on your face,” said Brown on his mask. “But I felt protected. I didn’t shy away from contact, I didn’t feel like I had to alter my game a little or anything like that. So, it’s a little uncomfortable at times, and then sometimes you gotta get your head around and make sure you see everything.”
Brown first sustained the injury on February 8th, and by Friday, February 10th, he was diagnosed with a maxillary facial fracture. President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens was able to report that Brown would not need surgery, and after all of that, Brown only missed four games (four and a half if you include the second half of their matchup against the 76ers). All things considered, Jaylen’s progress and rapid recovery are impressive, but he isn’t out of the woods yet.
“My guess is around somewhere between four to six weeks,” said Brown when asked about his recovery timetable and how long he may have to wear the mask. “I think a week has already went by, with the All-Star (break). We’re going to be real acquainted with each other after this duration.”
Jaylen Brown on getting used to playing with the mask & how long he expects to wear it pic.twitter.com/45ycBnbKV7— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 24, 2023
With only 22 games remaining in the season, Brown could be playing without a mask anytime from the middle to the end of March; Boston will only have four games in April before the playoffs kick off, as they continue to hold the top seed in the Eastern Conference. After dealing with so many injuries over the years, including this season, the Celtics were fortunate that Jaylen Brown’s injury was not more severe or required surgery.
The Celtics will suit up again on Saturday night as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers on the road, 8:30PM EST tipoff.