BOSTON – Even before Boston went about smashing the Chicago Bulls behind a dominant second-half showing, they seemed to play with a little more pep in their step at both ends of the floor.
Especially Jaylen Brown, whose activity at both ends of the floor was among the keys to Boston’s 117-92 win over the Bulls.
Brown, who did not play at New York on Thursday because of a sore Achilles injury, had 20 points on Saturday which included four 3-pointers.
Having a couple days to rest clearly was exactly what Brown needed.
“He looked great to me,” said Marcus Smart. “He was moving well so that’s great for us.”
One of the keys to Brown’s play was the ability of Kyrie Irving to embrace the blitzing strategy of the Bulls and make them pay by getting the ball into the hands of Brown who was open most of the night.
“He’s one of the best,” Brown said of Irving who had 25 points and seven assists. “A true point guard, a guy that makes the right plays, makes great decisions and he’s assertive. It makes it easier for guys like me.”
Following the victory, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about Brown looking “fresher” after having an extra day of rest.
“I think that helps anybody,” Stevens said. “It’s funny; we only played 48 hours ago, but I felt way better and so I’m sure that everyone else did. And I think that’s just part of this whole thing. And you’re going to have days where you feel better than others, but you always have to try to play the right way and we need as many bodies as we can.”
Only two NBA players have had their NBA 2K19 ratings revealed so far: LeBron James and Jayson Tatum.
Despite having just one season under his belt, NBA 2K19 awarded the 20-year-old with an 87-overall.
While James, the cover athlete of the game’s 20th Anniversary Edition, earned a 98-overall, Tatum’s 87-overall is higher than many anticipated and a ten-point jump from his initial rating as a rookie.
Tatum responded to the rating by quote tweeting the eye emojis (on World Emoji Day no less).
Tatum fell short of Rookie of the Year honors, but averaging 18.5 points per game in the playoffs and helping lead the Celtics to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals clearly made an impression on the game developers.
The forward's 87 is the same rating given to 2018 All-Stars such as Bradley Beal and Draymond Green at the end of last season, and higher than All-Stars like Al Horford and Kyle Lowry.
No other Celtics’ ratings have been revealed thus far, but Kyrie Irving, who finished last season at a 93, is likely to be the team’s highest-rated player.
Ratings are revealed periodically up until the game’s early-release date on September 7.
The Boston Celtics' transformation from contenders to pretenders and back again has drawn the praise of fans and rivals alike.
That praise continued to rain down on Sunday as Brett Brown, coach of the rival 76ers, lauded Boston’s team, Danny Ainge, and company.
“When you’re designing a team, when you’re thinking about the things you have to do from a coaching standpoint, when you’re forward-thinking about matchups, how can you not think about the Boston Celtics?” Brown told the Boston Herald. “I’ve said many times and I’ll say it again, the partnership that Brad (Stevens) and Danny (Ainge) have is fantastic.”
“And for all of my years in Philadelphia, you’re always looking over your shoulder at what Boston is doing. I think in many ways they are a benchmark type of program for me, and I’m always thinking about how ultimately do you beat them.”
While the 76ers exceeded expectations last season, the Celtics eliminated Philadelphia in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
With LeBron James moving west, many feel the race for Eastern Conference supremacy is shaping up to be a battle between the two long-time rivals, both of whom have young cores, for the foreseeable future.