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Jaylen Brown (hamstring) expects to play for Celtics in Game 1 vs. Bucks

Jaylen Brown missed eight games because of a hamstring issue earlier this season. He said this recent tightness has been less severe.Maddie Meyer/Getty

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, who experienced hamstring tightness in last Monday’s Game 4 win over the Nets was limited at practices this past week, said he expects to play in Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Bucks at TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.

“Any time you’re dealing with a lingering injury, you want to be cautious and careful,” Brown said Saturday. “But I think I’m OK.”

Brown missed eight games because of a hamstring issue earlier this season. He said this recent tightness has been less severe. He played 38 minutes and scored 22 points in Boston’s 116-112 series-clinching win over Brooklyn.


“Jaylen is doing well,” coach Ime Udoka said. “He looked good the last few days, felt good. Still will get reevaluated after practice by the medical staff, but all signs pointing in the right direction. Looked good the past few days.”

After sweeping the Nets, the Celtics received a five-day break before the start of the Bucks series. Brown said the extra time off was helpful.

“It was great being able to have a couple days, especially trying to get healthy and make sure everything was taken care of,” he said. “It was essential.”

Knock it off

Center Robert Williams returned in Game 3 against Brooklyn after missing nearly a month because of left knee surgery. Although he got through the two games without pain or further issues, he was clearly rusty.

Williams made 1 of 5 shots and registered 5 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot over 30 minutes. Udoka said Williams was able to get back into game shape this past week.

“He’s been doing more than the other guys, with that time he missed,” Udoka said. “We had a good hard [practice] on Thursday, so he got a good amount of scrimmaging in there. But he’s getting some extra work, as well.”


Ainge impressed

Former president of basketball operations Danny Ainge selected Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick of the 2014 draft in large part because of his defensive tenacity. So Ainge, who is now CEO and alternate governor of the Jazz, said he was pleased to see Smart named the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

“I was really happy for Marcus,” Ainge said. “I know how much it means to him to get that recognition of his craft, and I think he deserves it.”

Ainge, who retired last May following 18 years as the Celtics’ lead executive, has been watching the Celtics’ resurgence closely. He said he is also encouraged by the development of recent draft picks such as Payton Pritchard and Grant Williams.

“They’ve just continued to grow,” Ainge said. “I thought Payton had a really good year last year and just didn’t get a lot of opportunities this year. But when he got opportunities, he was ready. And I think Grant, in all aspects of the game, has just slowly improved to the point where he’s a terrific rotational player for a really good team at both ends of the court. He’s proven really valuable. It’s been fun watching those guys develop.”

Middleton effect

Bucks All-Star forward Khris Middleton is expected to miss this series because of sprained left knee. Milwaukee won the final three games of its first-round series against the Bulls without him, however, and Udoka said the Celtics would have to adjust to the Bucks’ subtle alterations.


“They were running some different things with Middleton being out,” Udoka said. “But the one thing I did notice was the spacing. Seems like they have a lot more spacing. They have shooters kind of spread everywhere. Not that Middleton is not a shooter, but he does have his specific plays that they run to, and it’s more so open court, so that presents a different challenge, opening the court up.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.