Celtics

‘Instead of playing one game, it kind of feels like I’ve played three’: Jaylen Brown detailed his post-COVID struggles

Brown tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 8.

Jaylen Brown shared some of the issues he's dealt with since testing for COVID-19 earlier in October. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Jaylen Brown’s first four games of the season have been inconsistent.

He looked like a superstar against the Knicks, scoring a career-high 46 points in a season-opening double-overtime loss. Two days later, he scored just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting in a dreadful loss to the Raptors in the Celtics’ home-opener.

After sitting a game against the Rockets due to left knee soreness, Brown looked like his star self again against the Hornets, scoring 30 points in the overtime win. But he struggled again two days later, shooting just 5-for-16 from the field and scored just 13 points in a home loss to the Wizards.

Brown’s inconsistency comes just weeks after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 8. His positive test sidelined him and kept him in quarantine until a day prior to the season-opening game against the Knicks.

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Speaking to reporters Friday, Brown detailed some of the challenges he’s faced in his first handful of games back since testing positive for COVID-19.

“I think so,” Brown said when asked if COVID-19 has played a role in his play. “I’ve noticed in the last couple of days – four games for me now – my body hasn’t recovered the same. In the sense I’ve been talking to our medical staff, I feel great. And then, it feels like instead of playing one game, it kind of feels like I’ve played three. I’m used to my body responding and recovering a lot faster.

“I know I just turned 25, but this can’t be what it looks like on the other side,” Brown, whose birthday was on Oct. 24, joked.

One of the things that Brown said has affected his recovery and play is joint pain.

“My breathing was more of my concern, and I’m breathing fine. I’m just not recovering as fast as I would like,” Brown said. “I’m having some joint pains, and that’s a part of COVID as well. I think that some increased joint pain is a part of it. As I continued to fight through it and continue to play more games and get the right stuff into my system, it’ll get better. Right now, it’s been inconsistent – I that’s that’s kind of obvious. My body hasn’t felt the same.”

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The Celtics had a lot of issues with COVID-19 last season, with their players missing the most days in the league due to the virus last season. Several players from last year’s team, such as Robert Williams, Evan Fournier, and Tristan Thompson, all detailed some issues they faced while dealing with the virus and in their first games back.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum also noticeably struggled with COVID-19 well after he returned from the virus. Months after testing positive, Tatum admitted he was using an inhaler, something he didn’t do prior to COVID-19.

Brown said he isn’t having that same issue, but he’s spoken with Tatum and other teammates who had the virus on how to deal with it in his first games back.

“Yeah, I think it affects everybody a little bit differently,” Brown said. “I think Jayson said his breathing was more of his concern. He had an inhaler. I didn’t really need an inhaler. I really focused on my breathing when I was in quarantine.

“My recovery has kind have not been the usual kind of recovery. I usually go through a routine, and that routine works. It’s money. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years. Even after a hard game, I do a routine and it should be fine. I still have some lingering joint pain. I still have some fatigue in my body. And I think COVID is one of the main reasons.”

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Brown’s inconsistency in energy led new Celtics coach Ime Udoka to call his performance so far “mind-boggling” following Wednesday’s game. Brown said he didn’t hear his coach’s comment, but he agreed with him.

“Ime came and talked to me about it [Thursday]. It didn’t bother me. It’s mind-boggling to me, too,” Brown said. “I was surprised that my body didn’t respond the way it normally responds. I’m usually able to have that zip, that pop, flying up and down the court, but it wasn’t there. I think that was obvious, I don’t think he was out of line or anything for that.

“I gotta be better and get with my medical staff and figure how to get my body to the point where I feel normal. Some days I feel fantastic and then it’s like 2-3 days, it takes my body too long to feel fantastic again. That’s an issue for me. As I navigate that, we have to still tighten up on the details, tighten up on our defense, and find a way to win games. Even though I don’t feel the same on the court, I could still be better in certain areas and detailed in certain areas. That’s more the conversation that we have.”

Brown and the Celtics hit the road again on Saturday for a rematch against the Wizards in D.C. They’ll be without starting point guard Marcus Smart, who has a non-COVID illness. Backup guard Aaron Nesmith is battling a similar issue, but his status for Saturday’s game is unknown.

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