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Ups and downs of Jaylen Brown and 9 other takeaways from Celtics/Pacers

Boston’s kids struggled as the Celtics lost in Indiana

NBA: Boston Celtics at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

1. This game was a ride on the Jaylen Brown roller coaster. He had some good plays, like his layup and three-pointer late in the game, mixed in with a lot of bad ones. One of the good plays, which flashed his incredible athleticism was this run-out early in the first quarter. This is a fastbreak created out of nothing, simply because Brown is more athletic than almost everyone else on the floor.

2. On the other end, the NBATV/Indiana Pacers broadcast did a nice job picking up both Brad Stevens and Celtics players yelling at Brown several times for being late on rotations and late to close out on shooters. Maybe his foot is bothering him more than he let on, but his normally very good defense was missing in action all game long.

3. With Boston launching so many three-pointers, they can’t afford to blow layups and free throws when they get them. They get so few of each that missing any looms larger than it might otherwise. Unfortunately, it cropped up in the fourth quarter of this loss. The Celtics missed four layups and two free throws in the fourth quarter. Those are all missing points on the scoreboard when any one of them could have led to a different outcome.

4. Two related points next. First, Stevens’ rotation stagger has seen Gordon Hayward playing a lot with Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart on the second unit. That is fine. What isn’t is taking the ball out of Hayward and Smart’s hands to let Rozier run the offense. Both of those two players are far better initiators of the offense than Rozier is.

5. Which leads to point two: Rozier is not a point guard. At least not on offense. He did fine in last year’s playoffs, but most of the offense ran through Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Smart. Rozier is a talented scorer, one who looks more for his shot than to make plays for others. There is nothing wrong with that. Teams need scorers. The challenge is that Boston continues to put him in position to run the offense as a playmaker when there are better options available.

6. It wasn’t all bad against Indiana though. The defense had some really good moments. They held the Pacers to 11-of-32 from behind the arc, highlighting their typically good three-point defense. An example of how Boston closes “hard and high” was Al Horford blocking this Bojan Bogdanovic three-point attempt:

7. There isn’t one good clip to demonstrate it, because you would need to pull about 20 of them, but Marcus Smart runs the Celtics defense like a point guard runs an offense. He’s regularly positioning and matching up his teammates, all while calling out the opponents sets and locking down his own man. It’s a joy to watch, especially when all five defenders are on the same page.

8. Marcus Morris has been Boston’s most consistent player this season. He continues to feast on second units. And Boston is making sure to let him abuse mismatches whenever he gets them, like he does here. TJ Leaf has no prayer of guarding Morris off the bounce and Morris knows it.

9. The Celtics offense has been really unselfish and balanced (More coming later this week on CelticsBlog!). One play where this stood out was Smart making the extra pass to Tatum for a three-pointer. What you don’t see is Smart had missed a layup on the previous trip. You know he wanted to make up for it, but he made the right play and found Tatum instead.

10. It wasn’t a great game for Hayward numbers-wise, but that misses how comfortable he looks. He got up for an alley-oop early in the game and landed hard on his left foot. He’s also taking contact without worry now. And that leads to him using one of his best skills: controlling pace. Hayward isn’t overly fast, but he changes speeds better than most. Here he gets the big on his heels in transition and drills the pull-up. It’s all coming together for Hayward now.

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