Five things you might not be thinking about tonight
BOSTON – There’s no question that the Celtics are a better team with Gordon Hayward than without him.
However, with him out for an extended period of time, the spotlight will focus on someone else to step up and fill that void.
There will be a number of candidates, but second-year forward Jaylen Brown stands out.
Brown is coming off a career-high 25 points in the 102-99 loss at Cleveland, the kind of performance that showed just how far his game has come from his rookie season.
And maybe more important, it provides a glimpse into how he could handle a heavier load which is similar to what he experienced in the Cavs loss on Tuesday following Hayward’s injury.
As much as Brown embraces the chance to be a more impactful player for the Celtics, he’s well aware that replacing Hayward is not going to be a job left up to one man.
“It’s on the team,” he said. “We have to come together and play. We got more than enough talent; great coaching in Brad Stevens. At that point, it’s just play basketball, play for each other, play the game the right way and we’ll be fine.”
There will certainly be plenty of attention paid to Brown and his teammates heading into tonight’s game.
But here are five things you may not be thinking about as the Celtics play the Milwaukee Bucks in their first home game this season:
NO DEAL FOR SMART OR PARKER
The deadline to extend players on their rookie contracts from the class of 2014 has come and gone, with most following a path similar to Marcus Smart who will become a restricted free agent this summer. Another player in a similar position was Milwaukee’s Jabari Parker, the No. 2 pick in the draft class (Smart was No. 6). Boston and Smart’s representatives could not come to terms on a number that both sides felt comfortable with but Parker’s situation is slightly different. While the talent is undeniable, he has had a series of health concerns/injuries that made the Bucks pause before offering him up a major contract. Parker is a talented player who, like Smart, will get paid well next summer. For Parker, it’s more about getting through this season relatively injury-free that’ll determine his value. He’s still on the mend following an ACL tear in his left knee from last season, which marked the second time in a 12-month span he suffered that injury to his left knee.
SECOND-ROUND PICK, FIRST-RATE TALENT
Malcolm Brogdon came into the NBA as one of the more decorated players from the college game. Despite that success, he still wound up being a second-round pick. But Brogdon delivered one of the more impressive seasons by a second-rounder that the league has seen in recent years. And the result of his success of the Bucks, Brogdon was named NBA rookie of the year. It was the first time such an honor was bestowed upon a second-round pick. And by shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range (40.4 percent to be exact) while averaging at least four assists per game (he averaged 4.2), Brogdon became just the fifth rookie to do so. The first rookie to achieve that was Celtics legend Larry Bird, who shot 40.6 percent on 3’s while averaging 4.5 assists per game.
HISTORICAL SEASON FOR THE GREEK FREAK
Giannis Antetokounmpo was an All-NBA player after putting up video game-like numbers last season. In fact, he became the first player in league history to rank among the NBA’s top 20 in total points scored, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Steals and blocks became official stats prior to the 1973-1974 season. Since then, only three other times has a player ranked in the top 25 in those five categories, with one player (Kevin Garnett, when he was in Minnesota) doing it twice (2000 and 2004).
AVOIDING SLOW START
With seven of Boston’s first 11 games on the road, winning is not going to come easy. The degree of difficulty only increased with Gordon Hayward’s injury. Boston’s looking for a win tonight to help them avoid an 0-2 start, something they have not experienced since Brad Stevens’ first season in 2013. That season, Boston opened with four consecutive losses. It would be a precursor to what would be a 25-win season that included a lot of games in which the Celtics were relatively close, but not good enough to close the game with a victory. The first four games, all losses, had an average margin of 7.5 points per game.
THE JET STILL FLYING HIGH FROM 3-POINT RANGE
Jason Terry, who turned 40 in September, is entering his 19th NBA season, the kind of longevity that means he’s probably played for a few – quite a few – teams. Among them was the Celtics. The much-talked-about 2013 trade involving Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, also included Terry. And while there are some who believe the “Jet” has lost a step or two, the same cannot be said for his shooting. Last season with the Bucks, Terry shot 42.7 percent with 73 made 3’s in 74 games. He comes into this season having made 2,242 3’s, which leads all current NBA players and ranks third all-time.