Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Brown takes advantage of attention paid to Kyrie

Stars, studs and duds: Brown takes advantage of attention paid to Kyrie

BOSTON – When Kyrie Irving is on the floor, defenses can’t help but gravitate towards him.

And that night-in, night-out pull creates lots of opportunities for his teammates to be aggressive offensively with little resistance from defenses.

And with so many different scorers, you never know who is going to have it going.

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On Wednesday night, it was Jaylen Brown whose early scoring put the Sacramento Kings in the kind of hole they could never dig themselves out of.

And with the rest of the Celtics getting in the act, the beatdown was on as Boston crushed the Kings, 113-86.

Brown, who had 22 points, shared game-high scoring honors with Irving.

And while Brown attributes his red-hot shooting to “just letting it fly,” that becomes a lot easier when teams spend so much time focusing on how to limit the impact of Irving as well as Al Horford who has gotten off to a strong start this season.

“Kyrie and Horford are going to draw so much attention, especially Kyrie,” Brown said. “I mean, I’m just licking my chops every time they double Kyrie or whoever so I’m just trying to stay as ready as possible, trying to take the pressure off them. They gotta guard me, Jayson (Tatum), (Marcus) Smart, and Terry (Rozier), too.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 113-86 win which extends the Celtics’ winning streak to six straight.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

It was another night in which Brown got the job done at both ends of the floor. In addition to another strong job defensively, Brown also scored 22 points on 7-for-8 shooting to go with six rebounds.

Kyrie Irving

He delivered yet another strong performance, tallying a game high-tying 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting from the field.

Zach Randolph

The 36-year-old Randolph was easily the most efficient performer for the Kings. He led all Sacramento starters with 16 points on 7-for-14 shooting while grabbing five rebounds.

 

STUDS

Daniel Theis

Few players on this Celtics roster seem to get more production in limited minutes, the way Theis does. He tallied his first career double-double, finishing with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.

Terry Rozier

Marcus Smart may be the engine of Boston’s second unit, but Terry Rozier is looking more and more like the man behind the wheel that directs the show. He led the Celtics scorers off the bench with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting. And while it didn’t necessarily show up in the final stats, he did a nice job of making sure players were where they needed to be at both ends of the floor.

Buddy Hield

He finished with a team-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting, but Hield has to do a better of taking care of the basketball. The Kings turned the ball over 15 times, with five of those miscues attributed to Hield.

 

DUDS

Willy Cauley-Stein

The defensive-minded big man was anything but that on Wednesday. And his offense wasn’t any better as he scored just two points while missing three of his four shot attempts and grabbing just three rebounds. Boston had seven players who finished with as many or more rebounds than Cauley-Stein.

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. New Orleans Pelicans

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the Pelicans at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  C's depth will be tested by New Orleans big men

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Celtics-Pelicans preview: Boston depth will be tested by New Orleans big men

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Celtics-Pelicans preview: Boston depth will be tested by New Orleans big men

BOSTON -- Aron Baynes has a very light-hearted, funny demeanor and is often captured in games with a smile on his face.

But don’t get it twisted.

He’s 6-foot-11, weighs 260 or so pounds and is not afraid to mix it up and kick a little ass in the process.

That’s why the Boston Celtics have placed a high premium on what Baynes brings to the floor.

Rarely will there be regular season games in which his value will be greater than it is tonight when the Boston Celtics (34-10) put their seven-game winning streak on the line against a surging New Orleans squad led by their all-star big man tandem of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

The duo has helped lead the Pelicans (22-20) to the sixth-best record in the West with wins in three of their last four games.

And while it’ll take all of the Celtics defensively to limit New Orleans’ 1-2 punch, the first hit will have to come from Baynes.

Baynes, whose 94.7 defensive rating is tops among all players averaging at least 18 minutes per game, understands the challenge that awaits him tonight.

“They’re both great players,” Baynes told NBC Sports Boston. “They have extensive abilities. You just have to go out there and play them and make things as tough as possible. They both have the ball in their hands a bit; both can create. But at the same time, they can both go out and make plays by themselves. So, it’s one of those things, it’s not individual defense. We’ll need team defense. That’s one thing we’ve been pretty good at most of the year. We really have to stay geared on that. It’s a five-man defensive effort for sure.”

He’s right.

Success tonight will involve multiple Celtics chipping in.

But the tone-setter for Boston defensively will have to be Baynes, a role that seems to be an expanded one from what he has been doing throughout his NBA career.

In his sixth NBA season, Baynes has been used primarily as a role player coming off the bench. Here with the Celtics, Baynes has made 32 starts compared to just 24 in his previous five seasons combined.

And his defensive rating has never been this good despite having it be less than 100.0 in two of the last three seasons.

Baynes keeps things fairly simple when it comes to playing defense.

“You know, you want to stay between your man and the basket,” Baynes said. “You want to make it as tough as you can. We’re playing against the best athletes in the world here who can make some incredible plays. What I’m trying to do is make it that much tougher for them.”

Baynes attributes the success he seems to have against most talented bigs, in part to the preparation by the coaching staff.

“We have great coaches here (that) watch so much film,” Baynes said. “They tell you (the opponent’s) tendencies, whatever you need to do for the upcoming game, they put you in great position. As long as you stay within the system, you’re usually in a pretty good spot. That’s what I try and do.”

Baynes’ emergence defensively has been among the keys to Boston’s defense which has been among the NBA’s top groups most of this season and currently have a league-best defensive rating of 99.6.

Jaylen Brown remembers talking with the Celtics coaching staff this summer about Baynes, a player Brown acknowledged he wasn’t too familiar with.

“They were excited about what he would add to the team,” Brown recalled.

And those talents will be needed tonight in dealing with Cousins and Davis, arguably the best 1-2 big man punch in the NBA.

“You have two of the best bigs in the league playing next to each other,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Both are supremely skilled. DeMarcus plays at the top of the key a lot, with the ball. He’s an isolation matchup problem there, as well as the block. And his ability to pass the ball, initiate offense has allowed them to play on a bunch of different, unique actions with another big. And obviously Davis and his ability to score the ball, his ability to roll to the rim, transition, all that stuff … they’re both very, very good.”

And the same can be said for Baynes defensively, acknowledging that it’s easier to focus most of his time and energy at that end of the floor based on the make-up of the Celtics’ roster.

“I still have moments where I can still look for my offense. But overall, I’m trying to make it easier for the other guys,” said Baynes who added, “I have complete confidence in my offense, but when you got Kyrie Irving on your team it doesn’t matter how good you think you are offensively.”

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