Celtics

Jaylen Brown ready for starting role alongside Celtics' Big Three

Jaylen Brown ready for starting role alongside Celtics' Big Three

BOSTON – Jaylen Brown has been one of his team’s go-to players for most of his basketball life.
 
And while the talented second-year wing has shown potential to someday deliver in a similar fashion in the NBA, he knows his job – for now at least – is to be a role player.

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Brown’s role will likely be that of a starter heading into the Celtics' season opener at Cleveland on Tuesday night. 

Brown was the only player to start all four preseason games for the Celtics (4-0), averaging 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
 
But Brown’s insertion into the starting lineup with Boston’s Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, has little to do with his ability to score, something he knows all too well.
 
“It’s different when you’re playing with three All-Stars on the court at the same time,” Brown said. “Just trying to find out how to be aggressive, but at the same time understand I have to play off those guys. I’ll figure it out.”

Throughout the preseason, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has stressed the importance of Brown needing to play at a high level defensively in order to give the C's what they will need from him.
 
Known as a slasher with above-average athleticism with highlight-worthy skills when it comes to finishing at the rim, Brown said he and Stevens are on the same page when it comes to defense.
 
In the preseason, Brown had a defensive rating of 83.3, which was tops among all Celtics who logged at least 20 minutes of court time per game.
 
What Boston loves about Brown as a defender, is the versatility he has to switch out at seemingly every position and still be able to hold his own.
 
In Boston’s 108-100 preseason win over Charlotte on Monday, Brown was defending 6-2 Kemba Walker in the third quarter and blocked his shot.
 
Shortly after that, Brown was matched up with 6-9 Marvin Williams and proceeded to block his shot as well.
 
When it comes to defense, “it’s part of me,” said Brown who added, “My pride, effort. Defense is part of getting to where I want to be, being an all-star and taking it to the next level, winning a championship, et cetera, etcetera. For now, I’m building the foundation, taking the steps necessary.”
 
Being an elite defender is a job that isn’t glitzy, and comes with very little glamour.
 
“I have no problem doing the dirty work,” Brown said.

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What should we expect from Al Horford?

What should we expect from Al Horford?

BOSTON – For most of his time in the NBA, Al Horford is credited for providing the kind of intangibles that factor into winning games.

While that certainly has been a factor in Boston’s success since the four-time All-Star signed as a free agent in 2016, intangibles can only take a player and a team so far.

Those intangibles have to be wrapped around production, something that always seems to be questioned in some capacity when it comes to Horford.

Regardless of where you fall on the Average Al/Awesome Al spectrum, the 6-foot-10 forward will have to be a major performer for the Celtics in certain tangible areas.

So what are those categories?

MINUTES 

Horford was second on the team in minutes played (31.6) last season, but don’t be surprised if he takes the minutes played title this season. Boston has a roster that has a plug-in-and-play feel to it, full of interchangeable pieces that can pretty much fill in whatever gap exists. But as you scan the roster, there really is no one player who can adequately deliver what Horford does on a night-in, night-out basis, even in the short term. Because of that, look for the 32-year-old to become even more vital to the team this season.

REBOUNDING

Although he grabbed a team-leading 7.4 rebounds per game last season, there were nights when Horford’s rebounding numbers left a lot to be desired. But like many statistics, upon closer review, it seems as though Horford’s rebounding isn’t nearly as bad as some might believe it to be. He played in 72 games last season, grabbing at least five rebounds in 61 of those games. He led the team with 15 double-doubles and came within one rebound of a double-double on 10 other occasions.

ASSISTS

Would anyone be shocked if Horford wound up leading the team in assists this season? He averaged 4.7 assists per game last season which trailed teammates Kyrie Irving (5.1) and Marcus Smart (4.8). So the idea of him essentially dishing out one more assist per game this season isn’t a stretch, especially considering his assists ratio (assists per 100 possessions) of 26.6 was tops among Celtics who averaged at least 30 minutes played per game.

THREE-POINT SHOOTING

It’s impressive how far Horford has come with his 3-point game, to the point where he connected on a career-high 42.9 percent of them, which included 97 makes, a career high. Horford’s ability to help space the floor with his long-range shooting will continue to be a weapon for the Celtics. With the return of Gordon Hayward this season along with the team’s younger players being more confident and assertive in their decision-making with added experience, there’s the potential for Horford to get even better looks on 3’s this season which should make him even more efficient offensively than he is now.

Austin Ainge on confidence of Celtics heading into the season

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Austin Ainge on confidence of Celtics heading into the season

Austin Ainge talks with A. Sherrod Blakely about the confidence the Celtics have heading into the 2018 season, and we discuss what team we think Jimmy Butler will end up on. 

(2:00) Does Jimmy Butler wanting out of Minnesota make him look bad? (6:00) What team does Jimmy Butler end up with?

(11:00) Breaking down ESPN top 100 NBA players list, did they rank the Celtics correctly? (15:00) Would you rather have Jimmy Butler or Gordon Hayward?

(17:00) A. Sherrod Blakely talks with Celtics Director of Player Personnel Austin Ainge.

(17:30) How does Austin think Kyrie irving and Gordon Hayward will fit back in on the Celtics?

(25:00) How important was getting Marcus Smart back with the Celtics? 

(28:00) What are the Celtics thoughts on the 2019 draft?

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