MEMPHIS — On December 1, before the Boston Celtics took on the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, Jaylen Brown was ruled out with a bruised tailbone, which he suffered against the Dallas Mavericks.
Brown was questionable against the Timberwolves, and he went through part of his pre-game routine, although he couldn’t finish. As he wrapped up on the court, he took a moment to discuss something related to his right hand with a Celtics trainer.
Asked about the interaction, Brown said it was nothing to worry about. About a month later, however, Brown’s right hand continues to be a question mark — he wears a wrap every game, and in the post-game locker room on Thursday, a much larger wrap turned his hand into an oversized paw.
Brown told MassLive before the game the injury is a bone contusion and imaging revealed no structural damage. But the injury has lingered, and Brown continues to play through it.
“I’ve got some swelling in there,” Brown said. “And it’s in a weird place that you keep hitting it, it’s going to keep getting worse, and it’s kept getting worse. That’s what I’m dealing with now.”
When Brown crashed to the floor against Dallas, the first body part to hit the ground was the hand, followed closely by his back.
Initially, of course, Brown was most concerned with his tailbone, and he missed three games with a bruise.
“I thought that (the hand) was going to improve during the time I was out for the fall, but it kind of didn’t really get better,” Brown said. “It’s a very weird, annoying, super annoying injury, because I’m a right-hand dominant player, it’s my right hand. But yeah, I’ve been having some pain, so it’s a very annoying injury to deal with.”
To deal with the injury during the game, the Celtics have been wrapping a silicon pad onto the bottom of the palm on Brown’s right hand. When Brown’s hand hits the floor, the pad absorbs some of the contact.
“It’s a weird place because it makes it weird to just hold the ball different,” Brown said. “But when I fall, that little silicon pad kind of saves it from getting further injured. It’s just annoying injury.”
Brown is generally quick to avoid excuses regarding injuries, but when asked if shooting is more difficult (and when prompted specifically to set aside excuses), Brown paused and chuckled.
“Yeah, it just makes it harder to play period, because I’m a right-hand dominant player,” Brown said. “But I’ve been playing through it. They’ve been having me take pills and stuff and just, it’s been numb, but as soon as the game is over I start to feel the pain again. But I’ve been just doing my best to just be there for my team, especially now as we’re trying to figure things out and get a rhythm going, so I’ll try to stick it out and just grit my teeth and keep playing basketball.”
Brown is yet to miss time due to his hand. Perhaps worth noting: Both of his most impressive dunks of the last few weeks — posters over Houston’s Clint Capela and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo — were with his left. While his numbers this season show his shooting struggles (27 percent from three, just under 65 percent from the line) Brown has also pieced together some solid games around the injury, including 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting against the Bucks and 18 points on 7-for-12 from the floor against Houston.
“Sometimes the pain is tolerable,” Brown said. “When it’s tolerable, I’m always trying to be there for my team if it’s tolerable. When it starts to get not tolerable and it’s too much pain, that’s when I’ll be like, ‘Okay, I probably should let someone else fill in, sit down.’ But it’s tolerable right now, so I’m all right.”