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.
It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.
Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.
The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.
Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).
Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.
If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.
Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).
With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.
Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.
Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.
The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.
It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.
Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.
Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).
One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.