Know this: Jaylen Brown wants to play.
He spent the second half of Game 7 on an exercise bike riding it like he was in the peloton through the Alps trying to convince Boston trainers his hamstring was just fine and he could go back in. He begged them again to let him lace up his sneakers and go in Game 1 against the Sixers on Monday, but to no avail, and he watched his teammates win in a suit on the sidelines.
A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston asked Brown about Game 2, set for Thursday night, and you can guess what he said.
“I’ll be back,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m playing.”
“But there was some concern that I could re-aggravate it and it becomes a season-ending injury,” Brown said. “I’m basically trying to come back in two days from a two-week type injury.”
With injuries this season, since the minute Gordon Hayward went down, the Celtics have taken the long view. As they should. Hamstrings, in particular, are a muscle that a player can think is healed enough to push through and play on, but the re-injury shuts them down for much longer. What’s more important to the Celtics than having Brown for this series is him being healthy to work on his game this summer and come back improved — next season, when Hayward and Kyrie Irving are healthy, is the real target. If Brown aggravated his hamstring injury, he could miss a chunk of that valuable summer recuperating.
Maybe Brown is ready and goes in Game 3, he certainly wants to. However, the Celtics’ trainers are coming with a different perspective, and it will be their call.