Celtics Insider Backs Under-Fire Star Wing Pairing: ‘This Duo Works’

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown

Getty Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown

Rumors surrounding the Boston Celtics and Jaylen Brown have been rife over the last few months. From deals for Ben Simmons to grandiose notions of Damian Lillard, it seems that Brown’s name is thrown into the mix without a second thought.

But, as one half of the Celtics star wing duo, is moving on from Brown so soon really the best course of action? We’re talking about two of the best young wings in the NBA, who are both exceptionally gifted scorers, talented defenders, and developing playmakers. Surely, splitting them up after a few months of struggle wouldn’t be smart business.

When a team struggles, opinions will always be split on what the root cause is. Still, it’s worth remembering that Boston’s problems align with the COVID pandemic and the two-and-a-half-crazy seasons that have followed. Blaming health, availability, or scheduling difficulty is a tough sell because almost every team in the league has had the same uphill struggle.

Yet, understanding that Boston’s rotation has been far from settled the past few years and that dips in form are part and parcel of professional sports help to quell some rising fears. When returning from COVID last season, Tatum required an inhaler before games and struggled to find his fitness for a couple of months. Brown has been dealing with a string of niggling injuries, which thankfully are not linked to one another.

And while the two All-Stars have navigated their own hurdles, the Celtics have consistently seen players go down with injury or with COVID. We’ve all heard the saying that consistency breeds success – and right now, nothing about Boston basketball is consistent. So, moving on from one of the team’s best two players would likely be a knee-jerk reaction to struggles born out of mitigating factors.

Chris Mannix Believes In Tatum and Brown

While the rumor mill continues to link Boston with splitting up their young core, Celtics insider Chris Mannix has taken a different stance on how Boston should continue building towards a championship.

Speaking on NBC Sports Boston’s post-game show following the Celtics’ December 22 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mannix gave his opinion on Tatum and Brown as a duo.

“I don’t think the Celtics have any questions right now, internally, about Jayson and Jaylen. Everything I’ve heard from within the team is that they’re focused on making sure they have the right pieces around them moving forward. Not about the two of them together. What I’ve seen is that this duo works. You can’t really put your finger on one thing specifically over the course of five games, but you go back the last four seasons and look at what they’ve done as teammates.

They’ve been to conference finals. They both made All-Star teams last year. You can’t throw all that out based on some injuries to Jaylen Brown early on and some inconsistency with this team. These two are very capable of being cornerstone players on a championship team. You have to just figure out who the right pieces are to put around them,” Mannix said.

Brown Is Getting Back to His Best

It’s no secret that Brown had struggled for stretches this season, most notably when he returned from his hamstring injury, which was presumably too early as he got shut down again after a few games.

Brown returned for his first stint back from injury on November 22, against the Houston Rockets, and played five games averaging just 14.6 points, 1.8 assists, and 3.8 rebounds on 39.4% shooting from the field and 29.6% from deep, per Basketball-Reference. A five-game absence followed to allow Brown additional time to recuperate from his injury. Unfortunately, Brown’s absence coincided with losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Phoenix Suns, as the Celtics went 1-4 on their West Coast road trip.

However, it would seem that Boston’s plan to rest their star is now paying dividends, with the Atlanta native dropping 34 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers on December 22, and 30 points against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 20. Brown has played five times since returning to the rotation and has averaged 25.2 points, 3.8 assists, and 5.6 boards on 45.7% shooting and 43.5% from three, a massive turnaround for the young wing.

Brown and Tatum will be back in action on Christmas Day when the Celtics face off against the Milwaukee Bucks in a matinee contest between two of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

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