Celtics

The key to Brown's growth with Celtics? He points to Stevens

The key to Brown's growth with Celtics? He points to Stevens

WALTHAM, Mass. – Brad Stevens may seem pretty mild-mannered on the sidelines, but his players tell a different story.

Stevens is a likable guy, but don’t think for a minute that he’ll hesitate to get on a player who isn’t doing something as well as he believes they should.

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And nobody sees that side of Stevens more than Celtics second-year wing Jaylen Brown.

Stevens is more consumed by telling players what they need to know and not necessarily what they want to hear.

Brown said Stevens has never told him that he would be harder on him than some others, but what they have is an unspoken understanding on the matter built upon respect and improvement – both in Brown’s game and the Celtics’ win total.

“It is what it is,” Brown said prior to practice Saturday ahead of Boston's playoff opener Sunday afternoon at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. “I have a job to do; Brad has a job to do. We understand that. He’s trying to win games, I’m trying to win games. At the end of the day, that’s what a leader does. They lead to a common goal. Brad Stevens is our coach, our leader. In Brad we trust.”

The relationship between Stevens and his healthiest leading scorer (14.5 points per game) is cemented in large part on Brown’s willingness to be coached, which sets him apart from a lot of the top prospects who come into the NBA having done things their way and haven't necessarily been coached to embrace the teachings of others.

“We use the phrase, growth-oriented,” Stevens said. “Nobody is more focused on getting better in the process in growth, than Jaylen. Jaylen is easy to coach because he wants to be coached. He wants to be good. And he’s really important to us. I really appreciate his mindset in that regard.”

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Brown is quick to add that he came to the NBA with that mindset and approach to individual progress.  

“It’s more of a mindset thing,” Brown said. “The NBA doesn’t have time to babysit nobody. Especially a 20, 19-year old kid, coming in on a playoff team. I didn’t want to give anybody any room to say he’s not ready, or ‘Okay, he has to mature. It was my mindset from the get-go. Everything is a growth experience for me. They may not see it now, but they’ll see it soon.”

Brown was the team’s No. 2 scorer behind Kyrie Irving, who will be out for the rest of the season after having knee surgery.

The 6-foot-7 wing shot 46.5 percent from the field and just under 40 percent (39.5 percent to be exact) from 3-point range.

And with Irving out, Brown will be among those called upon to contribute more than they did during the regular season.

Sure it’s a change, but it’s something Brown knew would come his way sooner or later.

“That’s what the NBA is about. That’s what life is about; being able to adapt,” Brown said. “That was key for a lot of young guys coming into the league, not knowing what they’re getting themselves into. Being able to adapt. I’ve adapted well. [Celtics rookie] Jayson Tatum has adapted really well.”

And that ability to make the necessary changes on the fly has been aided in part by the tough love relationship that has developed between Stevens and Brown.

When asked what do him and Stevens usually talk about, Brown said, “pretty much just doing better. Every time I talk to Brad, it’s always, ‘what I can be doing better.’”

And you won’t find Brown complaining; just the opposite, actually.

“That’s fine; that’s what I want,” Brown said. “I just want to get better. I just want to help the team. That’s his job to bring the most out of each and everybody. so when you understand that it doesn’t really matter what he says because we have the same goals. I want to win and be the best that I can be. That’s what he wants to do too. So no matter what, we’re on the same page.”

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Bucks vs. Celtics: It's all come down to 'who wants it the most'

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File photo

Bucks vs. Celtics: It's all come down to 'who wants it the most'

MILWAUKEE -- Khris Middleton knows what’s at stake so there’s no need to sugarcoat or downplay the significance of tonight’s Game 6 matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“Just win or go home,” Middleton said. “You can’t leave nothing on the line.”

Boston will come into tonight’s game with a similar approach, aware that regardless of what happens in Game 6, they will live to see another game at the TD Garden on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST. They could play Game 7 against Milwaukee or Game 1 of the second round against Philadelphia.

But the Celtics will tell you the sooner they can put away this Bucks team, the better off they’ll be. 

At this point in the series, there are no true surprises for either team.

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“Fifth time playing each other, you’re gonna know each other’s game pretty well by now,” said Milwaukee guard Matthew Dellavedova. “So it’s definitely some things we can do better, and we’ll execute better in game six.”

Like most playoff series, adjustments have a way of often being the difference between winning and losing. 

Milwaukee struck first by inserting Malcolm Brogdan into the starting lineup from Game 3 on, to replace Tony Snell who has struggled shooting the ball (29.4 percent) most of this series. And a back injury to John Henson afforded more playing time to ex-Celtic Tyler Zeller and Thon Maker, with the latter having dominant performances in Games 3 and 4, but being a non-factor in Boston’s Game 5 win which gave the Celtics a 3-2 series lead.

Boston has since countered with Marcus Smart making his playoff debut this season in Game 5 after being out six weeks with a right thumb injury, while Semi Ojeleye got his first NBA start in Boston’s Game 5 win as well. 

“It made it a little bit easier for us (defensively),” said Jaylen Brown, referring to Ojeleye’s first NBA start. “Because we can switch . . . we’re all the same. That made it a lot easier for us.”

"It’s gonna come down to who owns their space, who wants it the most and who’s gonna fight for it,” Brown said. “All that X’s and O’s and stuff  . . . it’s gonna come down to that (who wants it, fights for it more) at the end of the day.”

Terry Rozier added, “It’s gonna be a dog fight but we look to come out on top.”

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Another late error by refs: Celts should have been called for shot-clock violation

Another late error by refs: Celts should have been called for shot-clock violation

MILWAUKEE -- The NBA’s two-minute report from Boston’s 92-87 Game 5 win on Tuesday confirmed what many thought at the time: A 3-point heave by Al Horford with 1:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Celtics leading 84-79 was not released prior to the 24-second shot clock expiring, and the Bucks should have been awarded the ball.
 
Following the game, Milwaukee interim head coach Joe Prunty was vocal in his belief that the officials made a mistake in not calling a 24-second violation. The lead official, Ken Mauer, told a pool reporter that the play was not reviewable because Horford missed the shot. Had he made it, the referees could have reviewed it.
 
“The rule states that under two minutes we are not allowed to review a potential 24-second violation unless the ball goes into the basket,” Mauer said.
 
Prunty understood the reason for the refusal to review the play, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with. 
 
The Bucks were focused on getting the ball back and, trailing 84-79, would have had a chance to make it a one-possession game with about a minute to play. The call didn't cost Milwaukee any points, even though the Celtics successfully rebounded Horford's miss and retained possession; Marcus Morris subsequently missed a shot. Still, Boston was able to take about 20 seconds off the clock.

“That was a huge stop to get in Game 5 of a playoff series where both teams are putting everything on the line,” Prunty said after practice on Wednesday. “That’s a tough time to have a missed call. I know for me, I had a great view of it. So what I thought was a shot-clock violation was not called.”

In Sunday's Game 4, the NBA said Milwaukee's Khris Middleton should have been called for fouling Jaylen Brown with less than a minute to play as Brown drove to the basket attempting to extend Boston's 100-99 lead. Instead Brown lost the ball and the Bucks eventuallly pulled out a 104-102 victory.
 
That specific call was one of 15 made by the officials in the final two minutes of play. Of the calls made, the other 14 were correct calls or correct non-calls upon review.