Thanksgiving week is behind us, and if there’s one thing I’m sure we can all be thankful for, it’s a perfect record for the Boston Celtics. Another unblemished week at the office has pushed Boston’s league-best record to a sterling 16-4, and their 3-0 record came at the expense of tough competition from unlikely places. Dallas’ Luka Dončić is always a formidable foe, but matchups against the Sacramento Kings (stunningly, the second-best offense in basketball at present) and a cohesive Washington Wizards squad (firmly in the low-end Eastern Conference playoff mix) offered a tougher challenge than their reputations might suggest.
Nonetheless, as we’ve become accustomed to seeing, these Celtics trampled through all three teams. As always, that means we’ve got a decision to make: who was this week’s Player of the Week?
Jayson Tatum’s sprained ankle giveth and taketh away this week, as a pair of explosive performances at less than 100% (37-13-5 vs Dallas, 30-8-4 vs Sacramento) majorly impressed, but also led to a day of rest in the week’s finale against Washington. He’ll have to settle for his team-high in Player of the Week awards to remain at two for the time being.
Beyond that, shout-out to Al Horford, who seems to be perpetually hovering around this award. After a brutal 0-for-9 performance in the loss to Chicago the week prior, Horford responded with a week where he shot 76% from the field and 90% from the three-point line. Derrick White also built on last week’s Player of the Week win with three more double-digit scoring performances, maintaining his exciting start to the season on the offensive end.
All that considered, it’s time for the Celtics’ second star to get his time in the spotlight.
CelticsBlog Player of the Week #6: Jaylen Brown
3 GP, 32 MPG, 30.7 PPG, 61.4% FG, 35.7% 3PT, 4.7 RPG, 3.3 APG, +45
That’s right, he’s finally here — this is Jaylen Brown’s Player of the Week debut for the 2022-23 season. It’s an overdue appearance, to say the least. Brown is in the midst of a career-best season, setting new high-watermarks in scoring (26.1 PPG) and efficiency (60.1% TS) on the highest usage (30.9%) of his NBA career.
The most eye-popping aspect of Brown’s big year has been his success inside the arc. He’s always been a dynamic threat attacking the basket, with a steadily growing toolbox of counters in the midrange, but his 59% shooting mark from two-point range is next level by his standards, outpacing his second-best year by nearly five ticks. Brown is shooting a scorching 73% at the rim and connecting on better than 55% of his attempts from the mid-range. He’s also getting to the free throw line more often than ever (career-high five FTA per game) and cashing in on those freebies better than 80% of the time for the first time in his career.
The week began with Dončić and the Mavericks, a game that Brown said the Celtics had circled on their calendar. Prior to the game, Dončić said the Celtics “probably have the best duo in the league” — high praise that Boston’s young stars certainly lived up to that evening. It was one of those magical games where both of the Jays had it going at the same time; they combined for 68 points, and Dončić’s 42-point outing wasn’t enough to keep up.
From an individual perspective, Brown’s most notable performance came a few days later, against a not-as-bad-as-you-might-think Washington Wizards team on Sunday. Playing alongside Tatum — durable minutes-accumulator that he is — hasn’t afforded Brown too many chances to operate as the true top option in the Celtics offense. Against the Wizards, that opportunity arose; Tatum sat out after logging consecutive games on his sprained ankle, and Brown was tasked with picking up the slack.
The result? Game-highs in both scoring (36 points, his season high thus far) and plus-minus (+26). Brown seized this game by the reigns. Tasked with spearheading the Boston offense, he attempted 23 shots on a night where only one other Celtics even put up double-digits (Malcolm Brogdon, 5-of-10). Though his three-point shot wasn’t all there — he knocked down just two of seven three-point attempts — he went 11-of-16 from inside the arc and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
Just about everything we’ve discussed here was on display. It was an impressive performance at a valuable time, keeping the Celtics on track in the absence of his All-NBA teammate.
This next week will be a busier one, as the Celtics have four games on the docket. The week began with Monday’s blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets, and they’ll follow that game with a pair of home contests against the Miami Heat on Wednesday and Friday, before a trip to Brooklyn to face off with the Nets on Sunday. Who will step up and earn their time in the spotlight here next week? Sound off in the comments with your predictions.