The many talents of Jaylen Brown (Jeff Nooney): Jaylen Brown hadn’t scored in double figures since early December, but he responded against the Jazz with 10 points off the bench. His biggest impact came during the second quarter. He showed off a variety of skills in few minutes of game action. His athleticism was on display with his spectacular block on Raul Neto. He followed that up with a tough, and-1 finish at the rim on the other end. On the next possession, he showed his skill in the post by exploiting the Neto mismatch and scoring inside. Brown even hit a three in the quarter for good measure. His playing time might not be the most consistent; but stretches like these show he has the potential to be a dynamic playmaker for the Celtics.
The trickle down effect of Jaylen's Brown emergence (Keith P. Smith): Jaylen Brown is slowly but surely showing signs of progress as the season rolls along. The Celtics are basically asking him to be aggressive on both ends. Get up in to players on defense and attack the rim on offense. If he picks up fouls, it isn't the end of the world. His night is probably ending after 15-20 minutes at most anyway. And that is probably an ideal, low pressure spot for a rookie to develop in.
But where Brown's emergence as a legitimate rotation piece should have Celtics fans excited is for the trickle down effect on the rest of the roster. When Brown wasn't really playing the Celtics had no one to turn to behind Jae Crowder as the backup small forward. Gerald Green was out of the rotation and James Young is...well...James Young. That meant Boston was using Marcus Smart as the primary backup 3. And Terry Rozier was being asked to play the backup PG minutes.
Now, with Brown establishing himself, Smart can go back to playing as the backup point and Rozier, when he plays, can play off the ball. Smart is best when he has the ball in his hands and can run the offense. He's improved as a pick and roll playmaker as much as he's improved any of his other skills since joining the NBA. When he's the backup SF, he's too often relegated to hanging out around the perimeter and that takes him away from his strengths. And Rozier isn't as strong when he's forced to make plays for others as he is making plays for himself. Everything simply fits better for Boston and their prize rookie is a big part of making that happen.
Creating offense (Bill Sy): Isaiah Thomas’ 15 assists are impressive, but it should be noted that the Celtics as a whole picked apart the league’s best defense. Utah Jazz opponents are averaging a stifling 95.1 points per game; Boston dropped a cool 115 on them last night. Hitting a season high 17-out-of-31 three pointers helps, but here’s the most telling stat of the night: the Celtics shot 33 contested shots vs. 41 uncontested shots. That might be the first time all season that the team had more open looks than with a hand in their face and by a wide margin. That’s a product of ball movement, aggressiveness with their drive and their shot, and a growing chemistry with the team finally healthy and thriving. Did I mention that the Jazz own the NBA’s best D?