Bayless To Return After Missing Four Games
NEW YORK – The Celtics will have an extra scoring punch when they take on the Knicks at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Madison Square Garden. Jerryd Bayless is finally back.
Bayless has missed Boston’s last four games since injuring his left big toe on Jan. 19 in Orlando. He played just eight minutes against the Magic that night and has been on the mend ever since.
Brad Stevens indicated on Sunday that Bayless was nearing a return and the coach confirmed this morning that the guard is ready to go.
“Jerryd felt pretty good,” Stevens said after shootaround, “so we’re going to bring him off the bench.”
Unfortunately, ‘pretty good’ does not mean fully healthy. Bayless admits that the toe is not back to 100 percent just yet, but it is at a point where he can play through the pain.
“It’s still a little sore, but it’s manageable now and I’ve just got to play,” Bayless said. “I want to play, and just hopefully over time it will continue to get better.”
The Celtics training staff will continue to monitor and treat Bayless as the days wear on. In the meantime, the Celtics expect him to play and contribute.
Returning him to the lineup is a significant step forward for this Celtics team. Boston has essentially played without a shooting guard presence for the past week after Bayless and Avery Bradley went down with injuries on Jan. 19 and 21, respectively.
Losing those two players dealt Boston’s offense an overwhelming blow. The C’s have averaged just 90.4 points per game on 40.5 percent shooting over their last five games. Stevens expects Bayless to help change those poor offensive trends tonight.
“Scoring,” Stevens said of what Bayless brings to the table for Boston. “I don’t think there’s any question about it. He’s gotta be aggressive in scoring. We don’t want him to approach it the wrong way, but his ability to go and score off of pick-and-rolls and go and score off of catch-and-shoot opportunities is huge for us.”
To Bayless’ credit, he’s not allowing those lofty expectations to get to him as he approaches his return tonight from the injured list.
“It’s not tough,” Bayless said. “You just have to go out there and play and hopefully it works out.”
Bayless will finally get an opportunity to do that tonight after watching from the sideline for the past nine days.