Starting or off the bench, Jaylen Brown says approach remains the same

Starting or off the bench, Jaylen Brown says approach remains the same

BOSTON – Jaylen Brown returns to a familiar role as a player off the Boston Celtics’ bench.

But having filled in for Avery Bradley as a starter has provided an already confident Brown an even bigger boost of confidence that his play is good enough to make a significant impact right now.

The Celtics will certainly need Brown among others to step up on Wednesday night when Boston hosts the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, Brown says his approach to playing remains the same.

“Just do my job,” Brown said. “It doesn’t really change. I used to come off the bench before Avery got hurt.”

And has shown his versatility by starting at times as a small forward (for an injured Jae Crowder) or at shooting guard for Bradley.

Brown’s first NBA start came at Cleveland in November, a high-scoring affair that ended in a 128-122 loss.

In that game, Brown scored a career-high 19 points on 8-for-16 shooting from the field to go with five rebounds and three steals.

That was good to see.

Brown’s defense?

Not so much.

Having missed 18 straight games offered Bradley an opportunity to sit back and watch his teammates more closely.

Bradley paid particular attention to Brown who has made significant progress in his overall game, but especially in his defense.

“That was something that he struggled with at the beginning of the year,” Bradley said. “As you guys know, it’s all about opportunity, learning the game and having confidence. That’s what he’s playing with right now.”

When asked to elaborate on Brown’s progress defensively, Bradley jokingly said, “staying on his guy.”

Bradley added, “We still make jokes every now and then when he messes up, but his desire to want to learn every single game, play as hard as he can, I respect him for that. Like I said, he’s playing well.”

And being with the starters has allowed Brown to continue expanding his game in ways that few anticipated he could this quickly.

In Boston’s 104-98 win at Detroit, it was a last-second 3-pointer by Brown that proved to be the difference-maker for the Celtics, the kind of shot that he would not have gotten an opportunity to take if not for playing well as a starter.

He has 15 starts this season, averaging 9.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 24.2 minutes per game which includes him shooting 35.9 percent from 3-point range.

“I got a lot more comfortable being on the floor with Al (Horford), Jae (Crowder) and IT (Isaiah Thomas),” Brown said. “I got a rhythm a little bit.”

And he hopes to keep it going for the rest of the season and into the playoffs, regardless of whether he’s starting or coming off the bench.

His comfort level is certainly a big part of his play. But just as vital has been the increased confidence that he’s playing with now.

“I think it’s at an all-time high,” Brown said. “I’ve always been a confident guy. When you see a few shots go in, you get little more confidence.”

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2018 by The Associated Press