Jaylen Brown (back) explains why he's out for “must-win” Pacers game


INDIANAPOLIS -- Jaylen Brown said his lower back injury is “feeling better,” but not good enough to return to action Friday night. 

The Boston Celtics just announced that Brown and Marcus Morris (knee) are both out against the Indiana Pacers with Al Horford (knee) probable.

Brown, one of the Celtics’ top reserves this season, has missed the last two games with the injury.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” Brown said of his back.

I asked him what his biggest limitation was right now with the injury. 

“Pain,” he said. “It’s kind of hard moving left to right. Tonight is going to be a real physical game. I want to be able to be myself for our team. That’s what matters.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Brown went through the non-contact portions of the team’s shoot-around and played some one-on-one. 

“The training staff told me he got out of the non-contact stuff fine, so we’ll see what happens,” Stevens said. “I would say he’s questionable to probable (for tonight’s game).”

But the concern is whether Brown’s injury has the potential to be something that, if he returns too soon, could linger into the postseason, which begins in a week. 

“We want everybody to feel really good. We have an open line of communication with guys,” Stevens said. “Obviously, if there was anything that we thought would linger into nine days from now, we would address that now.”

Brown acknowledged that factor is among many that will determine when he returns to action for the Celtics. 

“That’s what everybody is considering,” Brown said. “We don’t want it to become a problem come playoffs, risk playing now.”

To error on the side of caution would be a lot easier for Brown and the Celtics if not for the potential impact of Friday's game. 

Boston and Indiana are tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference, with the Celtics holding a 2-1 series lead. If the C's win, they would win the head-to-head series, which could come into play if the teams finish with an identical overall record. 

“Of course it’s a must-win game,” Brown said. “But if I risk injuring it further it could possibly lead into the playoffs and that’s what we don’t want. It’s definitely having a game plan, being smart and executing it. That's what’s important.”

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