With new faces lining the Boston Celtics’ starting lineup, the team’s shot profile is bound to look different. Fresh off his $304 million contract extension this summer, Jaylen Brown has been struggling to find his place within the offense. But on Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets, he led the way.
Brown finished the game with a game-high 28 points while shooting 10-of-19 from the floor and 5-of-9 from behind the three-point line, and it was all sparked by a monster first quarter where his co-stars let him take over.
“When you play long enough, you know who the hot hand is,” Jrue Holiday said after the game. “Especially when somebody’s got it going like JB. Get him the ball because obviously, he can go for 50 [on] any given night.”
After a couple of Kristaps Porzingis-led possessions, which were heavily featured against a small Nets lineup, Brown took over. From the 10:22 mark in the first to the 5:37 spot, he poured in 12 points, nailing a pair of triples in the process.
Brown took eight shots in the first frame, more than double anyone else on the Celtics. He shot 4-for-8 and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
With so many mouths to feed, the Celtics are adjusting to a new offensive feel. While Brown got going in the first against Brooklyn, on another night, it could be Porzingis who has the hot hand. Or Holiday. Or Jayson Tatum. Or Derrick White.
“It’s definitely a balance, definitely a challenge. Just trying to figure that out. When to be yourself and be aggressive, and when to get other guys going and let the game come to you,” Brown explained post-game. “I think that’s something that we’re all adjusting [to], and we’ll have to continue to get better at as the season goes on.”
Through the first eight games of the season, the Celtics have four players averaging at least 15 points a night and five taking over 10 shots per game. But while everyone on the roster is capable of putting up huge scoring numbers, Tatum and Brown are still the heads of the snake.
Brown’s first-quarter barrage was followed up by a 13-point second-quarter showing from Tatum, and the pair combined to score 51 against the Nets.
As the offensive leaders of the Celtics, their scoring will jump to the forefront throughout the season, but on a night-to-night basis, their mindset changes.
“I feel like doing that kind of makes the game easy for us, and they do it so efficiently,” Holiday said of Brown’s scoring run. “Then it’s like JT’s turn to come in and kind of show what he has. It’s really been fun getting to see them with that balance.
“I wouldn’t even say it’s so much me or sometimes the other guys. A lot of times, they let the game come to them, and how they play is very team-oriented, and then other times, they just take over, and they know they’re about to take over.”
Tatum’s and Brown’s scoring numbers are both down a couple of points from where they were last year, which is to be expected. Even against the Nets, while Brown ended with 28 and Tatum with 23, they scored in bunches, leaving room for other Celtics to produce.
As they navigate the challenge of an abundance of talent, Tatum and Brown will learn to adapt to what’s in front of them on each individual night. And they’re okay with that.
“It’s early in the season [and we] still got a lot to learn from this group, but [there’s] definitely going be an adjustment phase, and each and every night, your looks, your shots, your touches, everything might be different,” said Brown. “So, just being prepared for that.”