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Jae Crowder (high ankle sprain) out ‘a couple weeks, minimum’ 03.13.16 at 3:32 pm ET
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Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) drives to the hoop against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) drives to the hoop against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — The “positive vibes” Brad Stevens had for the prognosis on Jae Crowder’s right ankle took a turn for the worse late Friday and an MRI Saturday revealed a more serious situation for the Celtics.

The most versatile player and defender on the team suffered a high ankle sprain and will be out of action for at least two weeks.

“After I talked to you guys, he went back in and saw the doctor, [he] had developed a little bit of swelling,” Stevens said after Sunday’s practice. “[Crowder] has a high ankle sprain. He’s going to be out a couple of weeks minimum.”

Crowder, who was taking treatment Sunday instead of practicing, is averaging 14.4 points this season for the Celtics while usually defending the best scorer on the opposing team.

“He’s one of our most versatile players certainly in his ability to guard. I think that a lot of perimeter players have perimeter defensive versatility, but there aren’t a ton of guys that can guard 4’s for long stretches or sometimes 5’s for long stretches, and Jae can do all that. So that’s one of the things that’s going to be quite a balancing act without him, and we’re going to have to have guys step up and play. We’ll probably end up playing a little more traditional because of that, and we’ll see.”

The timing of the injury to Crowder couldn’t be much worse. Starting on Tuesday, the Celtics have a string of three games in four days against Indiana, Oklahoma City and Toronto, with their best all-around defender unavailable against the likes of Paul George, Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan.

“I think it’s a heck of a challenge when you look at our week ahead, right, with George, Durant and DeRozan, bang, bang, bang. But that’s this league,” Stevens said. “That’s why long, athletic, versatile guys are in such demand in this league. Again, we may be a little bit smaller at times at the three and we may be bigger than we’ve been at times at the four. We’ll see how it all plays itself out and pans out. We’ve got a lot of good players. It’s a great opportunity for them and it’s a great opportunity for some of our younger players maybe to take a more pivotal role than they have so far.”

Crowder is the only player to have started all 66 games this season for the Celtics. That string comes to an end Tuesday. Stevens said he hasn’t made up his mind who takes his place.

“Nah, we’ll decide that on Tuesday morning after another 36 hours of thinking about it,” Stevens said.

Could Crowder be back for the playoffs?

“Hey, we’ve got to qualify for those. The same old adage still applies with us: We’re not that far from out of it. So, we have to play well. We have a heck of a stretch coming [up]. He’ll be back as soon as he can.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Jae Crowder,
Brad Stevens has ‘positive vibes’ about Jae Crowder and his high ankle sprain, MRI Saturday 03.11.16 at 11:19 pm ET
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The Celtics and coach Brad Stevens might be holding their breath a bit on Saturday. 

An MRI has been scheduled for forward Jae Crowder, who suffered a high sprain of his right ankle in the third quarter of Friday’s 102-98 loss to the Rockets at TD Garden. 

Crowder was driving to the basket for a layup and came down awkwardly under the basket. The injury happened with 9:08 left in the third quarter. He fell to the floor and was slow to get to his feet. He limped down court and initially stayed in the game before coming out for Evan Turner a minute later. He did not return. 

“I was on a fast break, and I came down in an awkward way, and I got up and I didn’t feel good,” Crowder said. “Come to find out I just sprained it.  High ankle sprain.”

It may not have felt good but the prognosis is promising, according to Celtics coach Brad Stevens. 

“So Jae sprained his right ankle, twisted it in. Doesn’t have much swelling right now so it looks good,” Stevens added.

“They’re going to do an MRI on it [Saturday] and figure out if there’s anything above what they think right now. But I got mostly positive vibes as I was talking to him and then also to our doctors and trainers that it won’t be a long-term thing. But we’ll see.  We’ll know more [Saturday].”

“It affects us because he’s a big part of this team,” added Isaiah Thomas. “We need a guy like that out there. At the end of the day, when something like that happens, someone else has to step up, fill his shoes and step up, and we just fell short.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Houston Rockets, Jae Crowder
Celtics looking for ‘locked in and engaged’ effort to handle Dwight Howard, James Harden, Rockets at 4:36 pm ET
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Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) dunks against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics have had their fair share of success this season handling big men with big efforts from the likes of Jared Sullinger and Jae Crowder. 

Last week, in the span of 24 hours, Crowder was asked to handle Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James. The Celtics rallied to beat the Knicks on Friday and had James bottled up for the first half in Cleveland before James and the Cavaliers wore down the Celtics in the second half. 

The Celtics didn’t have their best defensive effort against DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers but they found a way in overtime. 

Against the Kevin Durant-less Thunder in November, they allowed Russell Westbrook 27 points but Serge Ibaka scored just 16 and the Celtics beat the Thunder, 100-85, in Oklahoma City. And against the very team they face tonight at the Garden, they held Dwight Howard to four shots, five points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes. James Harden was just 4-of-10 in 30 minutes for a total of 16 points. The two combined to make just 6-of-14 shots as Boston prevailed in Houston, 111-95, on Nov. 16. 

“Like I’ve been saying all year, all five guys on the court have to be so locked in and engaged on taking away what they like to do and just making it tough for them,” Crowder said. “We have a great game plan going into tomorrow night. We’ll throw a lot of different coverages at those guys on the pick-and-rolls and stuff like that. It takes all five guys. It’s just not one player against their scorers or one player against Dwight. It just takes all five guys to get him off the glass and do everything. I think once we have that, we have control of the game.” 

Howard is still regarded as one of the best pick-and-roll players in the league.

“I don’t know if he’s the best,” Crowder added. “I know he’s a heckuva player. I know you’re aware that he’s down there. He’s a good presence and he’s a vocal part of their team. Try to take it away.”

The Rockets come in at 32-32 and in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The Rockets were not able to trade Howard at the trade deadline. Since holding onto Howard, the Rockets are 5-4, including two straight wins. Howard, to his credit, has responded. In those nine games, Howard is averaging 17.1 points and 12.4 rebounds, including 9-for-12 from the field in each of Houston’s last two games. 

“Howard’s playing at a really good level,” Brad Stevens said. “I think he’s like 18 and 13 over his past seven games or so. Harden’s numbers are off the charts again for the year. And they’re more healthy than I remember them being when we played them last.

“Obviously, you’ve got [Patrick] Beverley back in the lineup. He’s a winning player. He makes a lot of great plays for them. And then [Donatas] Motiejunas is playing more now since he’s been back and starting. And obviously he had his career high last year here. So a lot of good talented players in addition to [Trevor] Ariza and [Corey] Brewer who are kind of their glue on the wings. Those guys are tough to play against. It’s a highly-talented team. I mean, they were in the Western semis for a reason last year and we’re going to have to play really well.”

“We always had the same goal,” Crowder added. “We came into the season with the same goals and this just gets a step closer to where we want to be, and that’s win a playoff series and build from last year. We got to the playoffs last year. We didn’t win any games so we want to win a series now and build from that and build from that. Right now, we’re headed in the right direction. We just have to keep winning, keep taking care of us each and every day, which is at practice. Come game time, we’ll be prepared and ready.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
Brad Stevens on Cleveland: ‘They’re the cream of the crop in the East for sure’ 03.05.16 at 2:44 am ET
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Celtics guard Avery Bradley (front) scores the winning basket against New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (back) during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Avery Bradley (front) scores the winning basket against New York Knicks forward Lance Thomas (back) during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens is more than aware that his team will have its hands full Saturday night in Cleveland. 

After Avery Bradley hit a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer on Feb. 5, the Celtics walked away with a 104-103 victory. It was one of the signs that this Celtics team might just be legit. 

But this is a Cavaliers team that not only wants revenge but is trying to fend off No. 2 seed Toronto in the East, a Raptors team that’s just a 1.5 games back in the conference standings. The Celtics have a 5-game winning streak heading to Cleveland while the Cavaliers enter play with a 43-17 record. 

“[Saturday is] a new game; it’s its own separate entity,” Stevens said. “What happens – what happened the last time we were there and what happened in the last five games doesn’t factor in to how we play once the ball is tipped. And so the deal is we have to start better than we did last time when we played them; we were down 15 at the end of the first quarter, and hopefully don’t put ourselves in that position again.

“Obviously you’d like to have the same result but it’s very difficult; they’re the cream of the crop in the East for sure.”

After the Celtics held on Friday for a 105-104 win over the Knicks, giving them a 38-25 record, the biggest question in the locker room was how far could this Celtics team go in the spring? 

 “I think if we keep working hard, I think we got a chance in every game,” Tyler Zeller said. “Whether we execute at the end of the game will determine how far we can go, but I think as hard as we play and how well we are playing together we can go as far as we can as long as we execute.”

 Jae Crowder echoed the “sky is the limit” belief of Evan Turner, a belief Crowder said he’s had since preseason. 

“I think sky’s the limit, I said that in preseason,” Crowder said. “We are just taking it game by game right now, we’re not looking too far ahead. We’re just working on trying to get better with the little amount of games we have left before we enter postseason.”

Can the Celtics, still six games back in the loss column with only 19 games left, still think about catching the Raptors?

“Of course I think so,” Crowder said. “It’s just a matter of us locking in and not overlooking any opponent and taking care of our business day by day.”

“Anything can happen, anything especially with this team,” Isaiah Thomas added. “We’re going to try to, we’re going to play every game like its our last and try to get the highest seed possible.”

 How far does Thomas think this team can go?

 “I don’t know, I don’t know. We just really focused on the right now and focused on continuing to get better and let the cards fall where they may,” Thomas said. “We’re not a great team so that’s going to happen, but we got to limit those spots where played like we did tonight; where we weren’t talking, we weren’t engaged on both ends of the floor and it almost cost us the game. Luckily, we got back into it and snuck in a win, but if we want to be the best team we possibly can we got to limit those.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder
Isaiah Thomas on seeing Malcolm Butler court-side Thursday night: ‘He couldn’t intercept that one’ 02.26.16 at 3:03 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Cameras didn’t catch him looking over to Malcolm Butler for approval but Isaiah Thomas did know Butler and Dion Lewis were court-side watching as Thomas dished one of the more famous assists of the season in a 112-107 win over the Bucks Thursday night. 

“Yeah, I definitely [saw] them. [Butler] couldn’t intercept that one,” Thomas laughed, referring to the pass with 50.6 seconds left that wound up in the hands of Jae Crowder. Crowder drilled a wide open three that put the Celtics up, 109-102 after the Bucks cut it to four.

“That’s what made it as good a pass as it was is that Jae hit a real clutch shot for us and got us the win,” Thomas said. “The the pass would’ve been good if he didn’t make it but it makes it that much better.

“Right before I picked the ball up, I was thinking of shooting a floater and I saw him. It was my bailout pass. I saw him in the corner. But then when I was guiding myself to jump, I couldn’t see him anymore. I was like, ‘That’s my only pass and hopefully, he’s still in that corner.’ And he was there and he got there at the right time to shoot the shot.

“The internet was broke last night Everybody has been hitting me about the pass. Guess it was a pretty nice pass.” 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dion Lewis, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder
Studs and Duds: Celtics fall to Magic, snap 5-game win streak 01.31.16 at 8:55 pm ET
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Jan 31, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic guard Mario Hezonja (23) shoots around Boston Celtics forward Amir Johnson (90) during the first quarter of a basketball game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Magic guard Mario Hezonja shoots around Celtics forward Amir Johnson during the first quarter at Amway Center. (Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports)

The Celtics saw their five-game winning streak snapped in a 119-114 loss to the Magic on Sunday in Orlando.

The hosts prevailed on the strength of a 72-point second half, overcoming a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to lead by as many as 11 in the fourth.

The Celtics cut the deficit to 3 with 14 seconds left to play on a four-point play by Marcus Smart, but the comeback fell short.

Evan Fournier (24) and rookie Mario Herzonja (17) led the Magic, combining for 41 points off the bench. Four other Magic scored in double figures.

Smart matched his career-high with 26 points including seven in a five-second span during the frenetic comeback. Isaiah Thomas had 23 and  Avery Bradley added 22.

The (27-22) Celtics are now tied with the Atlanta Hawks for fourth in the Eastern Conference, one-half game behind the Chicago Bulls.

For a complete box score, click here.

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Read More: Celtics 114, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Magic 119
Marcus Smart addresses on-court argument with Jae Crowder: ‘Me and Jae are good’ 01.11.16 at 10:32 am ET
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In the Celtics‘ 101-98 loss against Memphis on Sunday, there was a play that drew the attention of most of the Celtics team.

With the Celtics down 93-92 and a 17-second difference between the shot clock and game clock, the plan appeared to be to play the possession out and get a stop, but Marcus Smart pressed up on Greg Chalmers fouled him, which seemed to upset many of his teammates, including Jae Crowder who ran at him stomping his feet.

After the game, Smart accepted responsibility for the bad play and said there’s no hard feelings between he and Crowder.

“He was just telling me we didn’t need to foul there,” Smart said to reporters. “It was heat of the moment, two players, competitors going at it, both mad at each other. I’m mad at myself. He’s mad at me because I made a play. But me and Jae are good. That’s supposed to happen. I made a bad play.”

The Celtics have now lost three straight and five of their last six.

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