Make no mistake about it, Boston Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown made his presence felt in his triumphant return to the lineup as the Celtics cruised to a 117-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, Monday night.
Brown finished with 19 points on 6-of-13 attempts, including 3-of-7 from deep to go with his five rebounds, a pair of steals, and one blocked shot in 30 minutes of playing time.
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Al Horford on Jaylen Brown’s Impact: ‘A Huge Difference’
In light of Brown’s return, someone asked Celtics veteran big man Al Horford if he felt a difference in the starting lineup against the Bucks during his media availability, Thursday afternoon.
“A huge difference,” Horford replied. “What he brings to the court — just all the attention that he gets — his shot-making ability, putting pressure on the rim. When he’s healthy, when he’s here with us, we’re just a totally different team. So, it was just really good to have Jaylen back. I mean, he was with us the whole time on the trip, obviously, but not playing. So, it’s a big difference when we have him out there with us.”
“I think the reality is how we’re playing and how we go about things,” Horford said. “That last game, you know, was very positive for us, and we have an opportunity to continue to build on that. It’s a long season, and we have to start somewhere. We’ve had our ups and downs. Our record kind of reflects it. So, we have an opportunity here to make some strides in that area.”
Al Horford Continues to Enforce ‘Great Ball Movement’
For Al, sticking to the game plan — which holds ball rotation in high regard — on offense is critical, and something Horford will continue to enforce.
“I just want to encourage, more than anything, our great ball movement. We had a bunch of assists,” Horford said. “The reason for that was, you know, we really played two-man games with both of them and I feel like we were able to see the defense try to figure out who you’re going to guard Jayson, Jaylen and I think coach Udoka has been emphasizing a lot on extra passing, making the right play, and it’s something that takes time. I feel like that Milwaukee game was a good step towards that and I do expect for us to keep building on that.”
Celtics’ Ime Udoka ‘Testing’ Quality Teams
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, while understanding the magnitude of beating the champion Bucks, is impressed with his team’s recent win. However, preparing for the Western Conference-leading Warriors (23-5) is another tall task.
“Testing ourselves against better teams and honestly, as I’ve mentioned, it’s really not about which opponent or what stretch. We take it game-by-game,” Udoka said after Thursday’s practice. “Whether it’s the west coast road trip, Milwaukee, and now Golden State and New York coming up; all quality teams that are, obviously, all doing well in the standings for the most part. It’s going to be a test for us. But, we put a lot on ourselves in the preparation. It’s a different matchup in coverage and scheme every night.
“But, areas we can grow and improve on, and you get some good test there, by the level of competition that you’re playing.”