‘Unacceptable’: Jaylen Brown blamed Raptors’ in-season tournament court for injury


All 30 teams are using new courts for games in the group stage of the new in-season tournament.

Jaylen Brown had a good night in the Celtics’ win over the Raptors until the final seconds. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Celtics were able to pull out a dramatic 108-105 in-season tournament win over the Raptors in Toronto on Friday, but their biggest scare might have come as they were sealing their win.

When the Celtics were inbounding the ball up by three with just over eight seconds remaining, Jaylen Brown slipped and nearly did a split, causing him to come up hobbling. As Brown was down on the court for an extra moment, Boston needed to call a timeout in order to remove him from the game.

Brown believed that the Raptors’ in-season tournament court was to blame for his injury, saying he might have strained his groin on the play.

“I slipped. That’s it. I slipped. I think I might have strained my groin a little bit. We’ll see how it feels,” Brown told reporters. “But the court was just slippery all game. I think, as players, we’re all here for the in-season tournament because it’s going to generate revenue, excitement, competition, but we’ve got to make sure the floor is safe to play on. We can’t put our players out there and risk their health.

“Tonight, I thought the floor was unacceptable. I think guys were slipping all over the place, not just me.”

The NBA unveiled special design courts for games in the group stage of the in-season tournament, typically using one color for the outside stripes of the court and a different color for the middle stripe across the court. Friday was the Raptors’ first home game of the in-season tournament, and it was apparent that players were having issues staying up throughout the game, causing concern from many throughout the game.

“I like the way this court looks, but there’s been about 10 times that guys are slipping all over the place,” NBC Sports Boston’s Brian Scalabrine said on the broadcast after Brown slipped. “If they’re going to do these floors, you’ve got to make sure you’re taking care of the guys.”

Brown concurred with that thought.

“I’ve heard some of the other guys mention they were slipping around, other teams in different places in the league,” Brown said. “So I think they need to make sure that’s the emphasis before somebody gets seriously hurt.”

Fellow Celtics star Kristaps Porzingis believes the slippery court in Toronto also led to some travel calls during Friday’s game, adding that the in-season tournament courts are “something I think that needs to be reviewed.”

As Brown mentioned, other notable players around the league have had complaints over the stability of moving while playing the in-season tournament courts. Earlier in the week, Mavericks star Luka Doncic called the Pelicans’ in-season tournament court “really bad” in terms of being able to play on it without issue.

“It was really slippery, and then in some places the ball didn’t really bounce,” Doncic told reporters Tuesday. “If we’re going to have these courts, we got to make sure it’s a stable court. It was a little slippery, especially the painted area.”

Also on Tuesday, a clip of LeBron James testing the slipperiness of the Lakers’ court ahead of their first home game of the in-season tournament went viral. The superstar squeaked his shoes across the court several hours before their game against the Grizzlies on Tuesday.

The good news for the Celtics, who improved to 2-0 in group play, is that they control their own destiny in the Eastern Conference’s Group C. They’re the only team in the group with an undefeated record and have the best point differential among the five teams.

The Celtics have two games remaining in group play. They take on the Magic in Orlando on Nov. 24 before hosting the Bulls on Nov. 28. If the Celtics win out, they’ll be guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament.

Even if the Celtics split their next two games and don’t win their group, they sit in a good spot to advance. They currently have the fourth-best point differential out of all 30 NBA teams in group play in the in-season tournament, putting them in a good spot to advance with one of the two wild-card spots.

Whether they’ll have Brown or not for the remainder of group play remains to be seen. He led the Celtics in scoring on Friday, putting up 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting with four assists plus a steal and a block. Brown’s averaging 22.9 points per game this season, shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from distance with five rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.