PORTLAND — The Celtics’ injuries and illnesses have made it difficult for coach Ime Udoka to finalize his preferred rotations. But it has become clear that he is quite comfortable turning to veteran wing Josh Richardson when he is available.
Richardson played the entire fourth quarter in Boston’s 137-130 loss to the Jazz on Friday, and he scored 7 of his 11 points during that frame.
“Steady play,” Udoka said. “Presence off the bench where we know we get something consistent there. He’s been playing well since the flu and the knees and the games he’s missed here and there. He’s been playing well when he’s played. He’s a veteran who’s been there, done that, and he gives us some flexibility.”
Richardson, who was acquired in a trade with the Mavericks last summer, has already missed six games this season, most recently a three-game absence due to a non-COVID illness. But he seems to be establishing a rhythm recently and is now shooting 46.9 percent from the field, the best mark among Celtics backcourt players.
“I think I just bring a good spark off the bench,” Richardson said. “Either way, whichever way the game is going, I think when I come on the court I can kind of sway it in our favor, whether it’s on offense or defense or just like diving on the floor. I can be better being a little more consistent with my aggressiveness on offense and just keep knocking my threes down at a higher clip. I think I can be doing a better job there.”
He is shooting 34 percent from beyond the 3-point line, which still ranks fourth among the team’s regular rotation players. But he is most comfortable and dangerous carving closer to the hoop for mid-range opportunities.
“It’s a good shot for me,” Richardson said. “it’s always been a good shot for me since I was young.”
Brown out for second straight game
Jaylen Brown missed his second game in a row due to tightness related to his recent hamstring strain when the Celtics faced the Trail Blazers on Saturday. Also, forward Al Horford was out due to lower back stiffness and Romeo Langford sat out because of a sprained ankle he suffered in Friday’s loss to Utah.
Brown missed eight games last month because of a hamstring strain he suffered in Boston’s Nov. 4 win over the Heat. He returned for the Nov. 22 game against the Rockets and played in five games before some soreness returned following Wednesday’s win against the 76ers.
“He felt tightness [Saturday], really fought me hard to try to play, wanted to play,” Udoka said. “He was kind of going through it watching us battle Utah last night. Jaylen is a very competitive guy that’s itching to play, get out there, but we want to take the big picture approach and get him back when he’s 100 percent, not 85-90 so it’s something that doesn’t linger.”
On Friday, Udoka said that Brown would likely be considered day-to-day for the foreseeable future.
Langford rolled his ankle in the second quarter of Friday’s game and Udoka said he experienced some swelling and soreness on Saturday. Udoka said that Horford probably could have played through his back stiffness, but with Boston playing games on back-to-back nights the team decided to err on the side of caution.
High school visit
Udoka, a Portland native, visited his alma mater Jefferson High School on Saturday morning to meet with the players following their intrasquad scrimmage.
“I stopped by there briefly to see some of the kids and take a few pictures,” Udoka said. “So, it’s always nice to come home. "