Earlier this week, new Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka called out star guard Jaylen Brown after he finished with just 13 points on a 5-for-16 shooting performance in the team’s disappointing loss to the Washington Wizards.
“It’s a tough one, you know, I see it as well,” Udoka said about Brown’s inconsistency this season. “But the contrast of some of those previous games, especially Charlotte and the New York game, and then the way you see him come out tonight is kind of mind-boggling.”
Brown, who started the season with 46 points, nine rebounds and six assists against the New York Knicks, has been up and down through his first four games. Perhaps that should be expected, however, given that Brown has been dealing with a sore knee that forced him to miss the team’s game against the Houston Rockets, and also tested positive for COVID-19 during training camp.
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The latter, in particular, has made things difficult for Brown. On Friday, he explained that he’s still dealing with a number of side effects, including joint pain and fatigue. In addition, he hasn’t been able to recover as well as he used to — one reason why he’s played well with more time off and struggled in games that came on less rest.
Brown’s comments in full:
My breathing was more of my concern and I’m breathing fine, but I’m just not recovering as fast as I’d like. And I’m having some joint pains and that’s a part of COVID as well. As I continue to fight through it and continue to play more games and get the right stuff into my system it will get better. Right now I’ve been inconsistent, I think that’s obvious, but my body hasn’t felt the same.
Yeah, I think it affects everybody a little differently. I think Jayson [Tatum] he said his breathing was more of his concern, like he had an inhaler. I didn’t need an inhaler, I really focused on my breathing when I was in quarantine, but my recovery hasn’t been the usual kind of recovery. I usually go through a routine, and that routine works. I’ve been doing it for a couple years. Even after a hard game I do my routine and I should be fine. But I still have some lingering joint pain, I still have some fatigue in my body and I think that COVID is probably one of the main reasons.
Really push through. Focus, change my routine, increase whatever I need to do, make whatever sacrifices. But I gotta get over the hump, and get my body to where I can feel like Jaylen. I haven’t felt like Jaylen out there every single game. That’s what I want to do, that’s what the medical staff wants to strive for. They want me to feel good whether I make or miss shots.
Brown tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks ago, and unfortunately, there’s really no telling when he might be back to 100 percent. As he mentioned, the illness affects everyone differently. Last season, his teammate Jayson Tatum suffered from the after-effects for months. Hopefully, that won’t be the case for Brown, because the most important thing here is him feeling healthy and like himself again.
From a basketball perspective, this is obviously bad news for the Celtics. They’re built around Tatum and Brown, and if the latter is going to be inconsistent for the foreseeable future, the team will be as well. In a deep Eastern Conference, that could be the difference between getting home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and being in the play-in tournament.