Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder is scheduled to return to practice Wednesday and his availability for game action will be re-evaluated after that session, coach Brad Stevens told reporters in Los Angeles on Monday.
Crowder, sidelined by a high ankle sprain since March 11, will miss his eighth straight game when the Celtics face the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. The Celtics lost their first three games without Crowder but have won their past four.
The Celtics took Crowder on their five-game West Coast swing that started Saturday in Phoenix with the hope that he might be able to play by the end of the trip. After Monday's game in Los Angeles, the team has two days off before playing the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday and the Golden State Warriors on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Boston closes the trek back in Los Angeles on Sunday against the Lakers.
Even if Crowder isn't immediately ready to play after the practice, it's an encouraging sign that he could see the court in time to shake some rust off ahead of the playoffs next month. Boston is stuck in a logjam in the middle of the Eastern Conference while trying to secure home-court advantage for the opening round.
Crowder has worn a boot on his right leg to aid the recovery process. Immediately after the injury, he expressed a desire to return to action quickly but admitted that there was lingering soreness in the ankle. The Celtics initially said Crowder would miss at least two weeks, and Friday would mark three weeks since the injury.
After appearing in Boston's first 66 games this season, Crowder said shortly after the injury that it has been difficult to be patient.
"I'm telling myself I'm good, but [team doctors are] telling me I'm not," Crowder said earlier this month. "I just feel very sore. And I feel like I'm close to being able to return, but we're going to take all precautions, take our time with it. But I'm going to keep doing my part and working out and being ready to go."
Crowder is averaging career bests of 14.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals over 31.9 minutes per game this season. The Celtics are plus-5.3 points per 100 possessions when Crowder is on the floor.