With LeBron James gone, the Boston Celtics are expected to be one of the top teams in NBA. Jayson Tatum is scoring 12.7 points per game and Jaylen Brown is contributing 11 rebounds per game as well as 3 assists. The duo has been paired for a few weeks now with all their success so far led by them being first-time partners on offense and defense at such an early point in their careers.
Jaylen Brown had a triple-double in the Boston Celtics’ 112-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. It was his first triple-double since he was still a rookie.
11:00 p.m. ET
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
BOSTON (CBS) — Following his first triple-double of his career in Boston’s 99-75 win against the New York Knicks at TD Garden on Saturday night, Jaylen Brown dismissed the notion that he and Jayson Tatum can’t have a successful long-term combo.
“I believe we can play together,” Brown said after a game in which he scored 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists against the Knicks, who had surprised the Celtics two days before at Madison Square Garden with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by RJ Barrett. “For the most part, we’ve played well together throughout our careers and stuff like that.” The previous year or two hasn’t gone as planned, but I believe that much of the difficulty we’re experiencing now will help us develop and improve in the future.
“I believe there will be a lot of excellent basketball on the other side of this if we get out of this funk and continue to grow. I’m only in charge of what I’m in charge of. I realize that everyone needs to perform their duties, but JT and I have a conversation. After the game, we spoke, communicated, and did stuff like that. As a result, we’re on the same page. I understand where all of the other annoyances stem from, but as long as I and him are on the same page, that’s where we should be concentrating our efforts. So we wanted to come out tonight and win, and we did.”
The Celtics have had another poor season, as they are 19-21 going into Monday’s game against the Indiana Pacers in Boston, which will officially finish the first half of the season. After three visits to the Eastern Conference finals in four seasons, the Celtics are presently 55-57 since the start of last season.
When Brown (24.1 points per game) and Tatum (25.5 points per game) are on the floor together for Boston this season, the Celtics are 4.6 points per 100 possessions ahead of their opponents in nearly 500 minutes. However, after years of being among the best teams in the East, the Celtics’ relegation to the middle of the pack has rested on the shoulders of the team’s two young stars.
Brown said he and Tatum talked about the season after the Celtics blew a 25-point lead in New York on Thursday, the league-leading fourth time this season the Celtics have blown a 19-point lead, and that despite the individual and team success both have had to this point in their careers, they still have a lot to learn as they enter their mid-20s.
“It hurts when you blow a lead like that,” Brown said. “It’ll be with you for a long time. That was a valuable lesson for us. That’s all there is to it. I understand that people are weary of hearing it, but there is still a lot of learning and growing going on. As a basketball player, I’m improving. Jayson is improving as a basketball player and is attempting to place our players in positions that will make them seem good. It’s a lot harder than it seems. So all we have to do now is keep improving, making the right plays, trusting ourselves, our teammates, and our coaching staff, and letting the chips fall where they may.”
The odds were in Boston’s favor in Saturday’s rematch against the Knicks, who were without Derrick Rose, Kemba Walker, and Evan Fournier due to injury. Following the Knicks cooled down after a hot-shooting first quarter, the Celtics gained control of the game, holding New York to its lowest point total in four years and guaranteeing the two clubs shared their season series at two victories each.
“I loved how we played in the first half, but I felt we got back on our heels in the first five or six minutes of the third, and then they went on a run,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“Your margin of error is minimal when you’re short-staffed.”
While Boston stifled New York’s offense, keeping them to under 20 points in each of the final three quarters, Brown was the Celtics’ leading scorer on the opposite end.
Brown set a new career high for assists in a game, in addition to claiming his first triple-double, in a season in which he and Tatum have been criticized for their passing ability. The Celtics were able to win after losing five of their previous seven games, and it was a breakthrough for Brown to set a new career high for assists in a game.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time on individual video sessions,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka, who has been outspoken about wanting Brown and Tatum to develop as distributors since the preseason. “Guys got their individual work in, but we focused more on that side of the individual sessions than the team sessions, and he’s been fantastic in terms of wanting to learn and improve in that area.”
“You could see him overthinking it at times in some of the games, when to pass and when to shoot, and he’s beginning to find out the rhythm of simplicity and making the simple pass, trusting your teammates, and not playing to the crowd — all of the things we preached all year.”
“However, when you’re a natural scorer trying to change your emphasis to how opponents defend you, it’s a delicate balance.”
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