Washington Wizards

Jaylen Brown steps up in crunch time

Jaylen Brown steps up in crunch time

WASHINGTON – For most of this season, Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum have Boston’s 1-2 scoring punch down the stretch.

But as we saw in the 110-104 overtime win against Washington on Thursday night, Jaylen Brown can deliver in the clutch as well.

After winning a jump ball with less than two minutes to play, seconds later Brown drained a corner 3-pointer that proved to be the dagger that the Wizards were not able to overcome.

“The shot clock was going down,” Brown recalled. “I took my time and took a shot that I’ve been working on for a while now. It shows itself in the game.”

Indeed, the work that Brown put in this summer has manifested itself into a strong sophomore campaign that has been one of the primary reasons why the Celtics (40-16) have been riding high this season.

Brown has more than doubled his scoring average (14.2 this season, was 6.6 as a rookie last season) while significantly increasing the level of responsibility he has on defense.

In Boston’s win over Washington, Brown spent a significant amount of time defending Bradley Beal, utilizing his length to contribute to a rough night for Beal who had 18 points but did so on 7-for-27 shooting.

Here are five takeaways from the 110-104 overtime win against the Washington Wizards:

BIG BOY LINEUP
Boston found success with a big boy lineup that included four players who were 6-7 or taller, a unit that helped swing the game’s momentum slightly towards Boston in the second quarter, Stevens turned to the five-man unit of Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Daniel Theis and Greg Monroe in the second half and they had yet another solid stint together.

GREG MONROE
Although Greg Monroe hadn’t played in a game since Jan. 29 prior to Thursday night, you could tell that he had made a point of working on his conditioning to stay game-ready. In his Celtics debut, he played 20 minutes while scoring five points to go along with six rebounds, two assists and a steal.

KYRIE IRVING
The pace that he played with on Thursday night was much, much better than what we saw at Toronto earlier this week. Irving did a better job of picking his spots when to attack the Wizards. And the end result was a game-high 28 points on 9-for-19 shooting to go with six rebounds and six assists.

LINE ‘EM UP
The Celtics spent more time working the ball inside the paint as well as attacking off the dribble, resulting in more trips to the free throw line than usual. For the game, Boston was 23-for-34 from the free throw line. The idea that they shot just 67.6 percent from the line is disappointing. But the fact that they went there so frequently compared to the Wizards (16-for-20), was a definite positive for the Celtics.

BENCH MOB
Boston’s second unit went four deep on Thursday, with Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, Daniel Theis and Greg Monroe. And to their credit, they each had a hand in Boston getting a hard-earned road win which included them collectively outscoring Washington’s backups 39-26.

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Celtics see it’s a little easier when they keep it close

Celtics see it’s a little easier when they keep it close

BOSTON – As the wins continue to pile up for the Celtics, there have been a couple of disturbing trends that pop up every now and then.

They have shown themselves to be the NBA’s best come-from-behind team, which has at times manifest itself with sluggish starts followed by a superb finish.

But as the Celtics saw first-hand earlier this week in Toronto, there will be nights when an early deficit foreshadows how the game will play out rather than become the turning point for the season-long comeback narrative.

We saw how Boston beat a good Washington team 110-104 in overtime Thursday night, a game in which the Celtics never trailed by more than five.

So, at no point in the game did the Wizards ever feel comfortable or in complete control, something the Celtics need to build on tonight when they host the Indiana Pacers, who come in having won six of their past nine.

Boston made a slew of clutch plays in the closing moments to get past the Wizards, winners in five of their previous six prior to facing the Celtics. 

There was Kyrie Irving knocking down a trio of free throws with 9.8 seconds that wound up tying the game and forcing overtime.

And in overtime, all 12 of Boston’s points came from Irving (who finished with 28 points) and is backcourt partner Jaylen Brown (who had 18 for the game).

But lost in the Celtics victory was how they didn’t allow themselves to get behind early, but instead kept the game relatively close and, in the end, did what they had to do in order to get the victory.

Chalk it up to one of the many lessons learned from their 20-point beatdown at Toronto earlier this week.

“We gotta come out with some fight,” Marcus Morris, who led all Celtics reserves with 15 points, told NBC Sports Boston following the win over Washington. “We gotta come out and hold our ground. We took a step back in Toronto. We weren’t ready for the intensity of the game. We learned from it. We came out here and played well the whole game.”

And it’ll take a similar effort tonight against the Pacers (30-25) who are sixth in the Eastern Conference and like everyone else in the East, are looking at knocking off the Conference-leading Celtics.

“Every team is coming,” Brown said. “They look at the East and think it’s wide open, and rightfully so. Everyone is coming with their best, everyone talks about the Celtics and we’re the number one team in the East, and we’ve been number one for a while now. There are teams that are on our heels and we know that, so every game we need to come out and bring the same energy because every night is like a Super Bowl. We can’t take nights off.”

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After waiting a week to play, Monroe shines for Celtics

After waiting a week to play, Monroe shines for Celtics

WASHINGTON – Greg Monroe’s last game prior to Thursday night’s debut with the Boston Celtics, was Jan. 29, a span of more than a week.

Despite the lay-off, Monroe wasn’t any worst for wear in helping Boston escape Washington with a 110-104 overtime win against the Wizards.

Monroe, who signed his one-year, $5 million deal with the Boston just hours before Thursday night’s tip-off, didn’t have to wait long before head coach Brad Stevens called his number (it’s 55 by the way).

Stevens, who said prior to the game that he wasn’t sure if he would play Monroe tonight, turned to the 6-foot-11 veteran in the first quarter.

And to Monroe’s credit he didn’t disappoint, scoring five points to go with six rebounds and two steals while logging just under 20 minutes of court time for the night.

More than anything else, Monroe had a presence about him that as you go up and down the Celtics roster, has been lacking this season.

“It felt good to be on the court,” Monroe said.

And it was good for Boston, as Monroe’s first made basket came at a timely point in the game.

In the second quarter, Monroe scored while being fouled which turned into a 3-point play that put the Celtics ahead 37-36 with 8:17 to play in the first half.

Brad Stevens has seen Monroe play better than what we saw in his first game with Boston. However, the fifth-year coach was encouraged by Monroe’s overall play just hours after officially becoming a Celtic.

“For him to come in and, you know, we simplified what we're doing for the most part just to certain actions that we had talked to him about,” Stevens said. “I thought he did a really good job. We'll continue to get more used to playing with him." 

Boston went with a big lineup that included 6-2 Terry Rozier at the point, surrounded by 6-7 Jaylen Brown, 6-9 Marcus Morris, 6-9 Daniel Theis and Monroe who is 6-11.

That is the lineup that began the second quarter and ultimately put the Celtics ahead at various points in the second.

Not only did that five-man unit make plays, but maybe just as important was their ability to be effective with Al Horford and Kyrie Irving on the bench resting.

Said Stevens: “One of the things you think about when adding Greg is, that’s time that you don’t have to stagger Kyrie and Al. And so that’s a positive moving forward.”

And with Monroe’s ability to play multiple positions – he plays both power forward and center – the Celtics  will continue to be able to effectively make switches defensively when needed.

“That’s one of the positives we have on our team, our versatility from our wings to our bigs,” Irving said.

And with Monroe, Boston has yet another talented, versatile player in the fold.

“It’s incredible,” Irving said. “Brad has more weapons to work with now. We’ll see how it works going forward.”

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