To say the Celtics have missed Jae Crowder during this last stretch run of the regular season would be the understatement of the century. The young forward injured his ankle on March 11th against Houston and has since missed the last eight games resting that ankle up. However, with the Celtics on their west coast trip in the most important stretch of games this season, Crowder is set to practice tomorrow in preparation for a possible return to the floor on Thursday in Portland. Via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com:

Boston Celtics guard/forward Jae Crowder is targeting Thursday’s matchup at Portland for his return following a high ankle sprain injury earlier this month.

“Hopefully,” Crowder told Comcast SportsNet’s Kyle Draper when he asked about a potential return against the Blazers. “Unless I have a setback which I don’t think I’ll have.”

Crowder also added that he wishes that his injury didn't happen during the pivotal stretch run of the season:

For Crowder, the toughest part about not playing has been the timing of his injury.

“If it happened earlier I would be OK with it,” Crowder said. “But it’s a crucial time of the year for our team. We want to finish the year out on the right note. I just want to get back healthy and give myself a chance to come back and be healthy for the playoffs.”

And while getting a few games under his belt prior to the postseason would be nice, Crowder knows that’s not necessarily a sure thing of happening.

“In a perfect world I would like to (play a few games prior to the playoffs),” Crowder said. “But it’s not the end of the world if I don’t.”

For the Celts, Crowder's absence has been very visible as their team defense has taken a big hit with one of their best defenders being out. In the eight games that he has missed, the Celtics have allowed almost 104.0 PPG to their opponents which is two more than their season average of 102.1 PPG against opponents. The Cs have gone 4-4 and have asked many of their rookies to play heavy minutes in place of Jae Crowder. Evan Turner has filled in admirably in place of him but ET's best contribution comes from coming off the bench.

With Portland, Golden State, LA (Lakers), New Orleans, Milwaukee, and a last stretch run of possible playoff opponents in Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami on the schedule for the Cs, it's more important than ever for Crowder to suit up as soon as he can. Boston most definitely will want home-court advantage in the playoffs and to put themselves in the best position to advance & win in the postseason. Crowder's return to the court only boosts our chances to excel in the coming weeks.

Image Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Follow Kevin Yazhari on Twitter @KevKevYazhari

Kevin Yazhari 3/29/2016 08:24:00 AM Edit
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