Things are tough right now for the Boston Celtics and perhaps tougher still for Jaylen Brown.
The former Cal player apparently aggravated a right ankle injury when he collided with teammate Jayson Tatum in the final minute of the Celtics’ 129-119 loss to Portland on Sunday.
Brown, who decided to play at the last minute despite dealing with the ankle situation, stayed on the floor in front of coach Brad Stevens in what ESPN described “obvious pain,” before getting up and hopping to the locker room with help from teammates but without putting weight on his foot.
Stevens said afterward he wasn’t sure about the status of either player.
“We just collided, and I guess he stepped on my foot and fell on my leg. I should be alright. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow. I should be OK,” Tatum said. “I hope he’s all right.”
So do Celtics’ fans. Boston (34-31) lost for the fifth time in eight games, sliding to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Unless they can climb back ahead of Miami (35-30) into sixth, the Celtics will find themselves fighting for the postseason lives in the new play-in tournament that involves the seventh through 10th teams in each conference.
The Celtics have seven games left — five on the road — but don’t play again until Wednesday at Orlando. They will play twice against Miami — Sunday and next Tuesday — both at home.
Brown, who played one season for Cal before being drafted No. 3 overall by Boston in 2015, is enjoying his best NBA campaign. He was an all-star this season and is averaging a career-best 24.7 points.
He was on a serious roll into late last month, scoring at a 29.1 clip over nine games, including back-to-back performances of 39 and 38 against Oklahoma City and Charlotte last week. Brown shot 54 percent from the field over those nine games and made 43 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
But while favoring the sore ankle, he cooled to 16.5 points on 24 percent shooting the past two games against San Antonio and Portland.
Cover photo of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum by David Butler, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo