The Boston Celtics just wrapped up a mini-series with the Philadelphia 76ers, in which Boston dropped both games by an average of 10 points and extended their losing streak to three games. To make matters worse, rookie sensation Payton Pritchard suffered an MCL sprain on Friday that will sideline him for at least two weeks, while All-Star Jayson Tatum will miss his fifth consecutive game on Sunday amid COVID-19 protocol.
Operating within an undermanned roster, guard Jaylen Brown has shouldered an abundance of the workload on the offensive end. After not recording a 40-point game over his first four NBA seasons, Brown notched his second such performance of the year on Friday, dropping 42 points (career-high) in 36 minutes. Yet, while the NBA’s seventh-leading scorer (26.9 ppg) has seen his game ascend to new heights in his fifth NBA campaign, he vows to take his play to even greater heights.
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Jaylen Brown: ‘I Can Do More. I Will Do More’
Following a 122-110 point loss to the Sixers on Friday, in which Philly shot 55.6% from the field, Boston’s defensive rating has now plummeted to 110.8 (21st in the NBA), the worst mark of the Brad Stevens era (h/t Keith Smith & Greg Dudek of Celticsblog.com).
Yet, despite his exceptional efforts on the offensive end, Jaylen Brown, who is widely considered one of the league’s best two-way wings, shouldered the blame for the team’s inept defensive play.
“I can do more. I will do more,” Brown adamantly stated during Friday’s press conference.
“A lot of that is on me,” he said. “I’m one of the defensive leaders and captains on this team, and I’ve got to be a better leader on that side of the ball.”
Brad Stevens Talks Defensive Effort, Tristan Thompson is Optimistic
That mentality in the Celtics’ locker room is that the team is more than well enough equipped to perform adequately on the defensive end. Now it’s just a matter of transitioning those abilities to the court with regularity.
“We just gotta get that tenacity back,” Brown said. “We’ve had it. This team is capable of it. We’ve had it at times. So I don’t think it’s a lack of (ability). We’ve just gotta have a mentality to do it every night.”
Head coach Brad Stevens echoed Brown’s take, noting that until the team shows a true commitment to excelling defensively, they will remain non-competitive.
“We’re not going to win a game with the group that we have giving up 122 points,” head coach Brad Stevens said. “Until we’re really committed to (defending), I just don’t see us being sustainably competitive.”
One of the players who has visibly struggled this season is free-agent acquisition Tristan Thompson. Brought in with hopes of anchoring the paint for Boston, the former NBA champion has struggled to guard the rim over the early parts of his inaugural season in Massachusetts.
Still, Thompson believes that he and his fellow Celtics teammates will turn things around. The big-man admitted that there will be peaks and valleys throughout the season, but ultimately, “This team is built for the long run. This team is built for the summer – June, July.”
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