The Boston Celtics opened their season with a big-time win over the Philadelphia 76ers, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combining for 70 points and prompting Celtics GM Brad Stevens to dish out some high praise.
“Our best two players just look amazing,” Stevens said during an October 20 appearance on 98.5 FM’s “Toucher & Rich.” “They came back ready to roll, and it’s been pretty impressive. And following their lead in every which way, we’ve got a chance to be pretty good.”
Along with his 35 points, Tatum added 12 rebounds and four assists. Meanwhile, Brown’s 35 points came alongside three rebounds, two assists and two steals. It was an all-around stellar performance from Boston’s two stars on a night when the team needed them to step up.
“Jayson Tatum set the tone early. Two minutes into the game, the 24-year-old already had a 3-pointer, free throws and a blocked shot under his belt,” wrote Justin Leger in an NBC Sports Boston story published October 18. “He didn’t let off the gas the rest of the way.”
Leger also noted that Tatum “missed only two shots from inside the arc.”
The 76ers are projected to be a top team in the East, so starting the season on the right foot was made all the more important by their stature as a top-tier squad. And despite Jame Harden’s 35-points performance, the Celtics delivered.
Celtics Legend Praises Tatum & Brown
Stevens wasn’t the only person to compliment Tatum and Brown after their Opening Night performances, though. During an appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame show, Boston legend Paul Pierce took some time to talk about Tatum’s and Brown’s future.
“I think it’s important for them to understand what they went through,” Pierce said. “To realize that and feed off of that and think, ‘Look, we were so close’ — and play with a chip on [their] shoulder every night because it’s never a guarantee that [they’ll] get back there. They’re young. They’re talented. If they can stay healthy and have the right mindset, and understand what it took for them to get there, they’ll get there again.”
Tatum and Brown led the Celtics all the way to the NBA Finals last season but fell short. They lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games, and this year, they’ll be looking to avenge that loss and take Boston all the way.
But just because Pierce was critical of the young duo doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in them. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. He tweeted out a strong message after the game.
“NBA Best Duo Tatum and Brown hands down,” Pierce tweeted after the Celtics’ win over the 76ers.
Brown Sounds Off on Himself & Tatum
But while Stevens, Pierce, and others continue to fawn over the greatness of Tatum and Brown, the latter of those two players isn’t sold. After the game, Brown played coy when asked about the stars’ performances.
And on top of that, he said that he doesn’t think he played that well.
“It’s just one game. You can’t get too high or too low. We both can play a lot better. I don’t think I played a great game,” Brown said.
Apparently, Brown is his biggest critic. But in a demanding and fast-paced league, that sort of self-accountability could be for the best.
Brown will have a chance to prove that he can be better in Boston’s next game. They take on the Miami Heat at 7:30 p.m. Eastern time October 21.