Brown understands postseason success is as much mental as physical

Brown understands postseason success is as much mental as physical

BOSTON – When it comes to the NBA playoffs, teams have a tendency to shorten their rotation. Usually teams tend to lean a bit more on their proven players rather than rookies.

That is why Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown, a solid contributor off the Celtics bench and at times as a starter, has spent the past few days since the season ended doing all he can to convince folks that he’s ready for playoff basketball.

“It’s a higher level of basketball. I have to be ready and prove not only to the fans but I have to prove it to my teammates and coaching staff that I understand the importance of playoffs,” Brown told CSNNE.com. “They might think a rookie isn’t as prepared or isn’t ready for that type of basketball. So I have to show coach I’m ready, show the world that I’m ready and I can play at this level of basketball, at a high level.”

Brown being in the playoffs, let alone a regular in the rotation as a rookie, is highly unusual.

In fact, the 20-year-old Brown has appeared in more games this season (80) than all rookies in the playoffs except for Oklahoma City’s Domantas Sabonis (81).

Brown, taken by the Celtics with the No. 3 overall pick, has impressed many for years with his athleticism. But he understands success in the postseason is as much about your mental state as it is your ability.

Fortunately for Brown, he has spent years working on honing his mental game to where the pressure of the playoffs isn’t likely to overwhelm him.

Graham Betchart is a mental skills coach who has worked with Brown since he was 15 years old.

“Obviously, with the playoffs there’s a huge influx of energy; massive energy is put into all these games,” Betchart told CSNNE.com in a phone interview. “And the secret is not getting caught up in all the shifting and focus of thinking about results, outcomes … you just have to trust all the mental training that he’s done and remain being present and just harness all that energy.”

Brown has carried himself with a relatively level-headed demeanor all season, something he attributes to working with Betchart.

“From an understanding standpoint and being mature, a lot of stuff has been thrown at (me),” Brown said. “How you handle it can affect how much you get on the floor. Everything they’ve thrown at me, I think I’ve handled the right way and I will continue to handle the right way and strive to be the best that I can be.”

Brown has a routine, but declined to give specifics.

One aspect of it is what Betchart calls the M.V.P. system.

“We’ve always done a routine,” Betchart said. “It’s called the MVP: Meditate, Visualize with some Positive self-thought. Me and (Brown) have done that a ton of times together.

Betchart added, “He now has that in his repertoire, his own pre-game routine. It gets himself focused, locked in. Just like your body, you don’t just show up on the court and play. You have a process of getting yourself warmed up. It’s the same thing mentally. You just slowly work on getting yourself mentally focused.”

That’s why Betchart isn’t overly concerned with Brown and how he’ll handle the added pressure that comes with being in the playoffs.

“One of the things about having done a lot of mental training, is he’s prepared for these moments,” Betchart said. “Obviously, he’s never felt this energy before. How could you? But he’s played big time high school, college basketball. But there’s nothing like a Celtics playoff game. You can’t replicate that anywhere, not in the regular season. He’ll adjust to the energy, and all his training will kick in and he’ll be present.”

Present, and ready to make an impact.

“Everything is just … more intense,” Brown said. “It sounds like fun to me.”

Rozier gets a big test tonight against Thunder

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Rozier gets a big test tonight against Thunder

BOSTON -- Terry Rozier has stepped up his game this season. There’s no disputing that point. 
And the Celtics have rewarded him with increased playing time, which he has proven he deserves. 
While he has made the most of his opportunity with an increased role due to injuries, at some point Rozier’s minutes should go back to being 20 or so per game. 
It’s amazing how far Rozier has come in such a short period of time, from a first-round pick many questioned as being a reach on Boston’s part, to an integral part of the team’s quest towards Banner 18.
And it is games like tonight’s against the Oklahoma City Thunder that will put the experience gained by Rozier as a major contributor, to the ultimate test when he faces off against reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook.
No one expects Rozier to put up Westbrook-like numbers . . . but would anyone be shocked if he did?
Remember, Rozier’s first NBA start came this season and he racked up his first career triple-double. The next game out, he dropped a career-high 31 points. 
But as we get deeper into the season, he’s no longer viewed as a backup or a role player, They see him as a player that has to be accounted for, regardless of whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. 
“There’s a lot of teams in this league you could easily see him starting for,” a league executive told NBC Sports Boston via text. “He’s not Kyrie [Irving] obviously, and he’s a different kind of player than Marcus [Smart], but he can play. If teams didn’t know it before, they know it now.”
Rozier may not be a secret anymore, but here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on tonight as the Celtics go for the season sweep against the Oklahoma City Thunder. 


If the Celts expect to win tonight, they better get it done in four quarters of play. Because overtime has been a good time for the Thunder. They come into tonight’s game with a 3-0 record in overtime this season. They are one of eight teams with an unblemished overtime record, and no other team in the league this season has as more wins (3) in overtime without a single defeat. 


The NBA hit Marcus Morris up for $15,000 following “verbal abuse of a game official” at the end of Boston’s 108-89 loss at New Orleans.  Morris will be lighter in the wallet, obviously. But it also might get him even more fired up tonight which could lead to him lighting up the Thunder. 


Scoring around the basket has not been a strength of the Celtics, but with key players on the perimeter hurt, Boston has to generate points in other ways. Doing so against the Thunder, a team that has allowed 43.1 points in the paint per game --10th-fewest allowed in the league this season -- will be a challenge.


At some point tonight, Boston will be challenged to get back on defense and not allow Russell Westbrook to score on the break. The Celtics have been one of the league’s better transition defense teams in allowing 10.2 fast-break points, which is the fourth-fewest allowed per game this season. Meanwhile, the Thunder average 14.1 fast-break points, which ranks third in the league. 


The Celtic players talk all the time about how great the TD Garden crowd can be. But at the end of games lately, they haven’t let them much to cheer about. The C's come into tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with losses in five of their last seven home games with the lone wins coming over Memphis and Charlotte – two teams currently out of playoff seeding. Boston’s last home win over a team that’s currently in the top 8 was a 97-96 win over Portland on Feb. 4, a game in which Al Horford hit a game-winning, fadeaway jumper as time expired.


Report: Kyrie Irving may need screws removed from knee

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Report: Kyrie Irving may need screws removed from knee

BOSTON — Kyrie Irving is reportedly going to get a second opinion on his sore left knee which may result in him having season-ending surgery.

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tony Massarotti reported on Tuesday that Irving will get a second opinion as early as Wednesday.

Irving suffered a fractured left knee cap during the 2015 NBA Finals.

He underwent surgery that sidelined him for the rest of the playoffs.

The surgical procedure performed on his knee involved the insertion of screws to aid the stabilization of the  kneecap.

The Celtics have already been ravaged by injuries this season. They lost Gordon Hayward just five minutes into the season due to a left ankle injury. Daniel Theis is out for the season with a torn meniscus injury to his left knee. Marcus Smart recently had right thumb surgery that will keep him out for the rest of the regular season, with there being a chance he will return at some point for the playoffs. And Jaylen Brown suffered a concussion that has him sidelined, as well.