UPDATE (8:35 p.m. ET): It appears Jae Crowder indeed will return to action Thursday against the Portland Trail Blazers, per Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
ORIGINAL STORY: The Boston Celtics could get a much-needed boost on the court Thursday night.
Swingman Jae Crowder, who has been sidelined since March 11 with a high ankle sprain, said Thursday morning he’s on track to play in the Celtics’ game against the Trail Blazers in Portland.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Crowder told reporters before the team’s shootaround at Moda Center, via Celtics.com’s Marc D’Amico. “Minor soreness from practice (Wednesday). I’ll go through shootaround (Thursday) and really see how it feels, but I feel pretty good.”
Crowder fully participated in practice Wednesday for the first time in three weeks. It appears the Celtics are taking a cautious approach with the 25-year-old’s injury, though. Boston faces the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors on Friday night, and head coach Brad Stevens said Thursday the team likely will play Crowder in just one game of the back-to-back set, with Thursday being the likely candidate.
Crowder admitted a matchup against the Blazers, rather than the high-octane Warriors, might be a better game to ease him back into action.
“I like this one (against Portland) because it gives me a chance to really just get back in the groove of things with a slower-paced game,” Crowder said. “(Friday) night (against Golden State) will be a much faster-paced game and be up and down. That’s the only reason why I would choose this one over (Friday).”
The Celtics, who have gone 4-4 in Crowder’s absence, are in a tight race for playoff position in the Eastern Conference and definitely would benefit from his immediate return. But more important is making sure Crowder is healthy for the postseason, so expect Boston to tread lightly with their versatile two-way forward in the remaining eight games.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) passes the ball against the Utah Jazz during the first half at TD Garden.