Brown wanted to be a leader on Celtics, and he's becoming one
BOSTON – When Jaylen Brown came into the NBA a year ago, he had visions of someday being a leader on the Celtics, someone players and the coaching staff would rely on to deliver consistently.
Even before Gordon Hayward’s season-ending injury, Brown was well on his way to establishing himself as one of Boston’s primary leaders.
“I can’t complain about being in this position,” Brown said. “Because I asked that of myself.”
Brown earned a spot in Boston’s starting lineup because of his defense. But he spent a considerable amount of time this past summer working on his overall game offensively, and that time was well spent. So far this year he's averaged 17.3 points, which trails only Kyrie Irving’s team-best 20.0 points per game. He has also drawn the challenge of guarding the best perimeter players, too.
Brown said his approach to the game is no different now than it was a year ago.
“The mentality is the same,” he said. “It’s just the responsibility is different.”
And that change brings about a greater toll on Brown physically.
“It’s more strenuous on your body,” Brown admitted. “It’s difficult guarding the best player every night and scoring the ball as well. It’s something I feel I’m capable of doing. It’s something I will continue to get better at.”
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks.
IRVING HEADLINES 20-POINT SCORING CLUB
Kyrie Irving has been one of the game’s most dynamic players for years, scoring in bunches unlike anyone in his age range. In fact, Irving leads all NBA players 25 years old and younger, in games with 20 or more points score. He came into the season with 234 such games and with a pair of games with 20-plus points, now has 236. The closest player under the age of 25 to that total coming into the season, was New Orleans All-Star Anthony Davis who has three more games with 20-plus points this season, which brings his career total to 206.
HORFORD A BIG PLUS FOR THE CELTICS
Al Horford’s NBA career has been defined by his ability to impact winning, even if that means posting numbers that don’t speak to the impact he makes on games. Despite all the changes that the Celtics are going through right now, Horford remains a solid, dependable rock that the team will continue to lean on. How valuable has he been? The Celtics have played 16 different players this season. Only one has a positive plus/minus after appearing in all three games Boston has played thus far this season – Horford.
NO NOAH TONIGHT
Joakim Noah will not be in the lineup tonight for the New York Knicks while serving the remainder of a 20-game suspension after testing positive for a banned substance. The positive reading came last season shortly after Noah underwent knee surgery. The suspension could not begin until an independent doctor examined him and deemed him “eligible and physically able to play.” It was determined that Noah was healthy enough to play in New York’s last eight games, which means he will be suspended for the first 12 games of the 2017-2018 season.
LARKIN FACES OLD TEAM
Boston Celtics guard Shane Larkin is with his fourth different team in what is his fourth NBA season. The New York Knicks are one of his previous employers, having played for them during the 2014-2015 season. The Knicks (37-45) just missed the playoffs that year, finishing one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot. And the play of Larkin helped. He appeared in 76 games with a career-high 22 starts. For the season, he averaged 6.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game.
HISTORICAL START FOR PORZINGIS
You had to figure a greater scoring burden would fall upon the shoulders of Kristaps Porzingis with Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma City, but few anticipated he would be this dominant out of the gates. In New York’s first two games, the 7-foot-3 Porzingis is averaging 32.0 points per game which prior to games played Monday night, ranked second in the NBA to Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (38.3). He becomes the first Knicks player since Patrick Ewing (1993-1994) to open the season with back-to-back games with 30 or more points.