Celtics forward Jaylen Brown suffered a hamstring strain in the second quarter of his team's 112-96 Game 7 win over the Bucks on Saturday and did not return. His status for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the 76ers on Monday was not immediately known, although Brown said he plans to play.
"Massage, rest, ice, all of the above," Brown said when asked how he would recuperate. "I hate taking pills. Like, I probably haven't taken a pill in over 10 years. But they've got me taking anti-inflammatories and stuff like that. So just whatever it takes. Because I wouldn't miss this next series for the world."
Brown tweaked the hamstring with about four minutes left in the first half on Saturday. He left the game but came back out onto the court during halftime wearing a black sleeve over his upper leg.
He jogged back and forth to test out his hamstring, but started the third quarter on an exercise bike before going back to the locker room. Later, the Celtics said he was available to return, but coach Brad Stevens said he would not risk it, especially considering the game was in hand.
"It's a little sore," Brown said. "It could be worse. I'm told it was Grade 1. I'll get an MRI tomorrow, see how it feels and go from there."
Theis on road to recovery
Celtics center Daniel Theis, who was lost for the season after tearing the meniscus in his left knee on March 11, on Friday took his first steps without crutches since his surgery.
"We celebrate all those things around our office this year," Stevens quipped, referring to the constant stream of injuries that have hit his team this season.
Stevens said Theis has been at the team's training facility most days, but he added that his road to recovery remains lengthy.
"He was excited about getting off those crutches and being able to move a little bit more," Stevens said. "He's got a long way to go before he's able to get back on the court really doing hard cutting and those types of things.
"I don't want to put a timeline on him, but my understanding was that he wouldn't be cleared for full, physical activity until mid-July or somewhere around that area."
The Celtics signed Theis to a two-year deal last July. He became a key rotation player as Boston crafted its 55-win season, averaging 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game.
Ojeleye gets the nod
Rookie forward Semi Ojeleye drew his third consecutive start in this series. He drew the assignment because of his skills as a defender, and has done an admirable job of challenging Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
But entering Game 7, Ojeleye had yet to have an impact on the offensive end, making just 3 of 13 shots over 97 total minutes. Ojeleye's opportunities generally come beyond the 3-point arc, where he was 2 for 9. He was 2 for 4 from the field Saturday, including 1 for 3 on threes, finished with 5 points in 29:20 of playing time, and helped limit Antetokounmpo to 22 points on 7-for-17 shooting.
"Obviously he's a spacer and will have to take and make open shots," Stevens said before the game. "But he plays really hard, and if you look at any of the numbers or just watch, he's our best player guarding Giannis. At the end of the day we can't keep him from getting every shot, but as far as making him take as tough a shot as possible, he's done a good job of that."
Ojeleye said that on offense, he just has to have confidence in his shot.
"I'm putting in the work every day to realize that sooner or later, the shots are going to go in," he said.
"It wasn't always good shooting from me in college, so I think that over time I'll stick with it, then things will go back to going how they should be in my head."
Maker answers bell
Bucks center John Henson averaged 37 minutes over the first two games of this series, but he was sidelined with back soreness for the remainder of the series. It was a somewhat mysterious injury, as there were few updates given about the cause of the pain, or the timeline for a recovery. But Milwaukee lost both games in which Henson played, and the Bucks entered Saturday night's Game 7 having gone 3-1 in this series without him.
Henson's absence opened a chance for center Thon Maker, who provided a lift with his defense and versatility, though he was limited to 5 points and five rebounds in Game 7.
"Not having John is not ideal, but it's created opportunities for guys to step up," Bucks coach Joe Prunty said. "I think that's one thing we mentioned before the series started was there's going to be players that step up and do things that people weren't thinking about or talking about. So Thon has done a great job stepping in and impacting the series."