Celtics

Jaylen Brown making a loud impact off Boston Celtics bench

Jaylen Brown making a loud impact off Boston Celtics bench

BOSTON — The Time Lord needed a moment to piece together the timeline. 

Robert Williams woke up Tuesday in Los Angeles, got diverted to Chicago where he played an overtime G-League game Wednesday night, then flew back to Boston on Thursday and, with the Celtics short on healthy bodies, was told he’d be dressing for a visit from the Sacramento Kings. Then, in the middle of Boston’s frenetic third-quarter comeback, the rookie got tossed into the madness.

Before Williams could even shake his own cobwebs, teammate Jaylen Brown made consecutive 3-pointers as the Celtics erased their second double-digit deficit of the night and TD Garden rattled with a playoff-like intensity for the first time in a long time.

"I think the only time I heard it that loud was when the Red Sox brought the [World Series] trophy,” admitted Williams. "That s--- was loud. That shit was really loud. But, nah, I never heard it that loud.”

The Garden has seemingly heard more boos than cheers in recent weeks. But Brown changed that by scoring 22 of Boston’s 40 bench points, his third-quarter outburst helping the Celtics rally for a gritty 126-120 triumph.

“That’s what it’s about,” Brown said of the comeback. "That’s Celtic basketball. No matter if it’s ugly or if it’s pretty you just have to figure out a way to get it done.”

☘️ CELTICS 126, KINGS 120

On a night Kyrie Irving dazzled with a loud triple double (31 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds) and the Celtics got contributions from multiple players, it was Brown who fueled the much-needed third-quarter surge and prolonged the good vibes from the LA trip.

Boston pulled ahead briefly at the start of the second half only for the Kings to respond with a 12-0 blitz that pushed the visitors’ lead back to double digits. It was still at 11 with 3:22 to play in the third frame when Brown highlighted Boston’s own 12-0 burst with three triples in an 80-second span.

The Celtics never trailed again.

“[Brown has] been big weapon for us. His 3-ball’s been really falling down the last couple games and then that opens up everything for him,” said fellow bench-mobber Gordon Hayward, whose fourth-quarter aggression helped Boston stay out front. "He’s real gifted at getting to the rim -- he’s so strong and fast. When he gets out in transition, too, he’s pretty dangerous. We need him. We need him, for sure.”

Echoed Kyrie Irving: "[Brown has] been great, just really putting his imprint on the game, being in the right spots, playing with a lot of effort, energy,” said Irving. "That’s what we need from him. He showed  a lot of glimpses of it last year, even the year before [in] his rookie year. We just need him to be consistent and be who he is and the rest of us will fill in our spots.”

☘️ CELTICS 126, KINGS 120

This season hasn’t played out anything like Brown probably expected. After shouldering much of the scoring load during Boston’s surge to the cusp of the NBA Finals last season, Brown was supposed to be part of a loaded starting 5 that got Irving and Hayward back from injury.

But that five-man unit fizzled early in the year, the Celtics staggered out the gates to start the season, and Brown soon found himself being blamed for a lot of the team’s inconsistencies. He was eventually shifted to a reserve role, with Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris elevating to starting spots, and the Celtics surged in the aftermath, which only further suggested he was part of the problem.

But it was never really the case. Yes, Brown slumped at the start of the year, but, overshadowed by much of Boston’s team-wide inconsistencies, is that, for the better part of the new calendar year, Brown has been one of the Celtics’ most consistent performers. His shot has defied him at times but Brown has consistently brought energy and, when he’s aggressive attacking the basket, he tends to produce his best nights.

Brown’s minutes, which dipped as low as 23.9 per game in December, have creeped back up to 27 per night in March. There’s a case to be made that he’s earned the right to elevate back to the starting lineup but Stevens has been reluctant to alter his first 5 given the way the team has typically started games well.

He might not deviate from that strategy moving forward but it’s clear that Brown has played his way into a bigger role, regardless of how he’s deployed. And, while he’s on the bench, Hayward figures that group ought to make the most of the situation.

"I think the second unit, we try to get in there and I think we should dominate most second units in the league, if not all of them,” said Hayward. "Just with the talent that we have in that group. So I think trying to get it up and push, especially with [Terry Rozier] and Jaylen, we can really get out and run, get some easy ones and really get ourselves going. 

"Coming off the bench, it’s hard to get some rhythm. But if you get some easy stuff coming off a fast break, that’ll make it a lot better.”

Added Morris, the former president of the Bench With Attitude, "No surprise that those guys come in with energy. If we can get that play in the playoffs and the rest of the regular season, it’s going to be tough to stop us.”

The Celtics need a little bit extra from everyone this postseason. They need more from Jayson Tatum and more from Hayward. But, quietly, Brown is giving them more right now. And the Celtics might need to lean even harder on him moving forward.

Brown showed last year how he can impact postseason winning, and he’s playing like he’s trying to prove it again before the playoffs arrive this year.

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NBA Rumors: Romeo Langford will be cleared for full basketball activities by start of Celtics training camp

NBA Rumors: Romeo Langford will be cleared for full basketball activities by start of Celtics training camp

With Celtics training camp set to begin on October 1, there is a bit of good news on one of the team's first round rookies. 

According to Keith Smith, Romeo Langford, who missed all of Summer League recovering from thumb surgery, will be cleared for full basketball activities by the start of camp. 

Langford is the youngest of the Celtics first round picks and arguably the player who needed the most reps during Summer League to get ready for his rookie season in the NBA. While those Summer League reps can't be regained, Langford will at least won't have to miss extra time getting acclimated to his new team. 

In early August, Langford told Tom Westerholm that his thumb was "basically" back to normal, but he hadn't participated in any contact activities. So over the past month-and-a-half, Langford has been healthy enough to continue to work on his jump shot, which the Celtics have begun to overhaul with a ping pong paddle

The Celtics will have to deal with a relatively uncertain future following Kyrie Irving and Al Horford's departures and the arrival of Kemba Walker. They'll need to hit on their draft picks in order to build a young core that can either contend with Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart or one that can be exchanged for a superstar talent that will. Having Langford ready to go at the start of training camp is at least a step in the right direction. 

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

When the Boston Celtics open training camp next month, they will have a whopping eight first-year players on the court. That number will include four drafted rookies, two summer league standouts on camp invitations, an undrafted two-way player, and a European import.

In the fourth installment of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to pick which of those rookies will have the biggest impact on the Celtics during the 2019-20 season.

Boston drafted four rookies in Romeo Langford (14th overall), Grant Williams (22), Carsen Edwards (33), and Tremont Waters (51). They later signed undrafted swingman Max Strus to one of their two-way deals, while summer league standouts Javonte Green and Tacko Fall are coming to camp with a chance to compete for a final roster spot. The Celtics also signed French 7-footer Vincent Poirier to add another body to their frontcourt.

That’s a lot of youth and inexperience but, then again, only four Celtics players have more than three years of NBA experience overall in Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Enes Kanter. Which is to say that there will be plenty of opportunities for younger players to make an immediate impact if they prove themselves ready for immediate minutes.

Typically, you might lean towards the lottery pick but Langford missed all of summer league while rehabbing from thumb surgery and will be playing a bit of catchup when camp opens.

Given Boston’s new-look frontcourt following the departure of Al Horford and Aron Baynes, it would seem a solid bet to suggest that Grant Williams or Poirier might have the clearest path to contributing. As you’ll read below, our panel leaned heavy in that direction and we’d probably be inclined to agree with their pick.

But we could also make the case for Edwards, an elite bucket-getter at the college level who showed at summer league that he’s not bashful about getting up shots. The departure of Terry Rozier could open an opportunity for backup guard minutes and if Edwards can give a little offensive jolt to the second unit, he could carve out minutes.

Scoring against rotation NBA players won’t be as easy as it was against rookies and roster hopefuls at summer league but Edwards can create his own shot, brings some rugged defense, and will have a chance to stake his claim for backcourt minutes.

Abby Chin: Grant Williams

The Celtics need all the help they can get in the frontcourt. The opportunity is there. And I feel like there’s a lot of hype surrounding the smart, versatile, if a little undersized, Tennessee product. I’m expecting big things.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: Grant Williams

The team's lack of depth and overall uncertainty in the frontcourt means all their bigs, Grant Williams included, will get a chance to play. He won't wow us with his numbers but his basketball savvy will come in handy on some nights and play a role in the Celtics winning more games than most anticipate.

 

Max Lederman: Grant Williams

Williams already has an NBA body (strength wise, at least) and is a smart, winning player. I was also really impressed with his willingness to let the game come to him in summer league, which shows me he'll be fine in whatever role the team asks him to play. He's also a concrete wall setting screens.

Countdown to C's Camp: Awards predictions>>>

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