Jaylen Brown had a nightmarish game against the Clippers on Wednesday. In addition to shooting an abominable 13-for-36 from the field in the loss, he didn’t register a single assist in his high usage effort (despite the fact that he logged eight “potential” dimes) without Jayson Tatum on the floor.
There have been growing pains to Brown’s progression as a playmaker. He’s averaging a career-high 3.2 turnovers a game including seven against the Magic. However, he’s still a dynamic scorer off the ball and since his return from his hamstring strain, he’s averaged 28 points on 45/35/78 splits over the last ten games.
To get JB going, head coach Ime Udoka took the ball out of his hands per se. Even though Udoka has stressed all year that one of the team’s goals is to help Brown and Tatum become better decision makers, he’s also emphasized the importance of giving everybody on the floor the responsibility to facilitate for the teammates.
Against the Suns on New Year’s Eve, the offense was run through the bigs with Al Horford and Robert Williams logging 20 potential assists that turned into 17 actual assists with Dimelord racking up his first career triple double.
On Sunday night hosting Orlando with both Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder available and starting alongside Brown, the point guards handled the rock, racking up fourteen assists between them with nine of them going to Brown en route to a 50-point night on 19-for-29 shooting from the field.
Sometimes, it’s as easy as catching Brown on the run and using that momentum to beat the defense. Udoka wants the Celtics to be a quick, ball-moving team, making decisions in half a second to catch opposing teams off guard.
Another simple play here, but it highlights the importance of a primary ball handler (Schroder) forcing the first action (a dribble handoff) and Brown being able to attack the defense in rotation (or in this case, a lack there of).
Brown scored 21 of Boston’s 35 points in the 4th quarter. He very rarely initiated the offense and instead, worked off the ball and used his size and speed to attack the rim. Smart hits Brown on the timely backdoor cut for the and-1 and the Celtics mounted their comeback.
Again, fundamental basketball. Smart drives, draws the attention of all five defenders, and kicks out to Brown in the corner. He takes advantage of that small close out from Terrence Ross to get him off balance and drives baseline.
Arguably the biggest play of the night. Brown attacks and attracts multiple defenders which creates a driving lane for Smart. Smart wisely kicks it out to Brown for an open three-pointer.
As the Celtics get healthier, we’ll see more of this. While many expected Brown and Tatum to be focal points of the offense, the two twentysomethings may not be quite ready for that responsibility and with capable playmakers around them, it may be more beneficial to get Boston’s young All-Stars easier scoring options.
But for what it’s worth, Brown did have the two most important assists of the night.