Celtics

Celtics-Heat Instant Overreactions: Jaylen Brown deserves Most Improved Player recognition

Celtics-Heat Instant Overreactions: Jaylen Brown deserves Most Improved Player recognition

Led by Jaylen Brown, the Boston Celtics took down the Miami Heat 112-93 on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Boston got off to another slow start, but dominated quarters 2 through 4 to pull off the win over its Eastern Conference foe without both Marcus Smart and Gordon Hayward.

Here are three instant overreactions from the C's victory:

1. Jaylen Brown deserves Most Improved Player recognition.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

We're only a little more than a quarter of the way through the season, but it doesn't matter. It's time to start the "Jaylen Brown for Most Improved Player" talk.

Brown made his case even stronger Wednesday night with a 31-point performance (one short of his career-high) in which he went 10-for-20 from the field and 5-for-9 from beyond the arc. The 23-year-old entered the game averaging 19.3 points and 7.1 rebounds on the season. Last year, he averaged 13 points and 4.2 rebounds.

Brown has taken the reins as one of the true leaders of this team, and it's been fun to watch.

2. These slow starts are getting worrisome.

Verdict: Overreaction

If anything, Wednesday night should've reminded you it isn't about how the Celtics start, it's about how they finish. And these slow starts, though there have been quite a few of them lately, aren't going to last all season.

Even if they did, the C's have proven capable of overcoming their sluggish starts and firing on all cylinders when it matters most. That's even without Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart, which is a statement in and of itself.

3. The Heat aren't a real threat in the Eastern Conference

Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics outclassed the Heat for the majority of this game, but don't let that fool you. As Brad Stevens noted prior to the contest, this team is "really good." They could be a thorn in Boston's side all year long.

Teams like the Bucks, 76ers and Raptors immediately come to mind when one thinks of the C's Eastern Conference competitors, but the Heat should be right there in that conversation.

Miami moves to 15-6 on the season after their loss, right behind the Celtics who improve to 15-5.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Difference between Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker apparent in recent press conferences

Celtics Talk Podcast: Difference between Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker apparent in recent press conferences

The 2019 NBA offseason has ensured that Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker will always be connected. When Irving spurned the Celtics after two seasons with the team to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, Walker joined the C's and took over as their starting point guard.

The two players are similarly great scorers. They can pass the ball well and set up teammates, too. And while Irving is regarded by many as the better player in terms of skill set, there are some intangible things that Walker brings to the floor and Irving doesn't: leadership and chemistry.

And Irving and Walker's recent postgame comments after losses demonstrate that.

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On the latest episode of The Celtics Talk Podcast, Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely were discussing the recent postgame interviews that the two did after rough outings and bad losses for their respective squads.

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Irving was far more focused on improving the team around him as opposed to his own poor performance. And as Blakely pointed out, it speaks to one of Irving's weaknesses as a leader.

Kyrie has yet to figure out how to make those around him better so that he can be a better winner. He is a great player. He's one of the best players in the NBA. There's absolutely no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

But he has yet to figure out how to elevate the players around him or carry himself with a level of humility that will ingratiate himself to his teammates who may not be as good as he is, but want to be great players nonetheless.

And Blakely also had one epic mic-drop moment about the former Celtic on NBC Sports Boston's "Boston Sports Tonight."

This completely juxtaposes Blakely's thoughts on Walker, who focused more on his poor performance and how he needs to play better for the sake of the team.

Kemba, flip-side of that, he didn't play great against Detroit. Was he the worst player? In the conversation, but he didn't play bad enough to where he was clear and undeniably the worst player on the floor.

And yet all he talked about in postgame was how he's got to be better. He's got to do a better job leading. It was me, me, me for the team, team, team. And that's something that you never hear from Kyrie.

Both Blakely and Draper acknowledged that they don't always like comparing the two to each other. But in this circumstance where their postgame pressers from similar games were polar opposites, they thought it had to be done.

It just about sums up why many Boston fans were happy to see Irving walk in the offseason. And Walker's positive attitude and ability to generate team chemistry has certainly been a breath of fresh air for the Celtics faithful.

For more on the Celtics game against the Bucks, their recent skid, expectations moving forward, and potential All-Stars from the team, check out the latest episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, which drops weekly as part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Did C's fool us into thinking they're better than they are?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Celtics Talk Podcast: Did C's fool us into thinking they're better than they are?

The Celtics have gone 17-12 since a 10-1 start. They're 4-5 in the new year and, after losing in Milwaukee on Thursday night, Boston is 7-8 against teams .500 or better.

On the latest Celtics Talk Podcast, it led Kyle Draper to ask our Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely, the inevitable question, Did a hot start make fans believe this team was better than it actually is?

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"We had the cookies on the bottom shelf in terms of expectations," was Blakely's response. "If they just did anything else other than get their heads handed to them early on [to start the season], we're like, hey, they're pretty good."

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What's behind the recent slide that seen the C's lose five of their past seven? Blakely says it's the defense. 

"When you really start looking at what's happening lately, that defense is getting exposed," Blakely said. "[Enes] Kanter has had a great season, but the law of averages says he's going to go through a stretch where he's just not going to get it done. Look at Jaylen Brown, he's had a great season, so has [Jayson] Tatum, but they're going to go through stretches where they're not getting it done. 

"The defense is not making the plays they need to that's why teams are shooting high 50's low 60's [percent] against them." 

Draper and Blakely also touch on the loss in Milwaukee and if the C's have enough to compete with the best in the East, another up-and-down season for Gordon Hayward ("We have been on this ride before," said Blakely. "Gordon [will] go out and has an 8-for-10 game. And people are going to be like, In Danny [Ainge] we trust, Gordon's great..."), Kyrie Irving's recent comments on his Nets teammates and more in the podcast, part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.